August 24, 2016

Justine Henin reckons if there had not been someone like Clijsters who gave her vicious competition, she might have ended up as a lesser player.

Henin was a guest in an ATP programme organised in the honour of her as well as one other former male Tennis player Marat Safin a fortnight back and she delivered an impressive speech on that occasion.

She revealed she used to have an eye on Clijsters and whenever she saw anything impressive in her game, she would always tell herself if her competitor could do that, why couldn’t she? And then she would work more and practice more to try and match her and try and counter her and that way, she would get better.

Henin and Clijsters were just one year apart in terms of their age and they came into the Belgian Fed Cup side almost at the same time and played alongside for the country at teen-age and were close buddies initially.
But, soon they became major competitors at professional level and were competing for the top spot and with that type of rivalry; they did not remain as close as they were as teenagers, but, Henin says the rivalry never caused any real strife between the two or the loss of respect for each other.

After the speech of Henin, the other Tennis players attending the programme, some of whom had actually played in the peak period of Henin and had often fallen prey to her, also spoke about the Belgian.

Monica Seles particularly mentioned the Backhand shot Henin would play using a single hand. According to Seles, it was a shot that one would hate as an opponent, but, as a fan, it was a shot to be awestruck by.