I don't expect to win title this year, claims Henin

Former world No 1 aims to play without pressure as she prepares for showdown with compatriot Kim Clijsters
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Justine Henin was doing her best to convince but whether anyone quite believed her was another matter. "I'm here to give my best and I'm here to go as far as possible in the tournament," Henin said as she looked ahead to this afternoon's all-Belgian showdown against Kim Clijsters. "I'm not here really to win Wimbledon."

While Henin continues to insist that she sees 2010 as a year of transition, the prospect of winning the only Grand Slam title that has so far eluded her was one of the big factors in her decision to come back. She returned at the start of this year, having become the first reigning world No 1 ever to retire when she walked away from the sport two summers ago.

Despite reaching the Australian Open final, Henin has found the going tough. She has won titles on clay at Stuttgart and on grass at Den Bosch, but there have also been disappointments, including defeat to Sam Stosur in the fourth round of the French Open.

"I didn't realise it would be as hard as it has been," she said. "When you leave this bubble, go some distance away and then come back, having to give everything all the time, you need to find the confidence to be consistent. That's where I was strong in the past. In Australia things maybe went too fast. You don't find your level again in just five months. I took so many years to build it."

She added: "Even if I want to enjoy my game and I want to win as many matches as possible here, I'm probably also thinking about the future. Now, every moment is important. I hope I can go as far as possible. I'm just trying to do my best on the grass, and that's working pretty well."

Having just suffered only her second loss at the French Open in the last eight years, Henin admitted she felt more comfortable than she has at past Wimbledons.

"When I was coming here after winning the French Open a few times, as world No 1, and going for the only Grand Slam title I had never won, I felt a lot of pressure," she said.

"This year it's a great opportunity to enjoy Wimbledon and that's what I'm doing. I wasn't feeling very well after the French Open. Physically and emotionally it wasn't that easy, but there have been so many positive things from the beginning of the season. I've had some ups and downs, but I've still been pretty consistent. I know there's still a long way to do. I'm realistic about that."