Justine Henin - First Round
Miami, Fl., U.S.A.
March 24, 2010
J. HENIN/J. Craybas
6 2, 6 2
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Are you still having fun?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, hopefully. No, it's been good to be back on the courts. It was disappointing in Indian Wells, of course, not being my best.
But I also realize it's gonna take a little bit of time to really be in the good rhythm and find myself again on the court, and I have to get used to different kind of things.
I didn't live this life for almost two years, so that takes a little bit of time. I've worked pretty good between Indian Wells and here.
Now I'm gonna have a tough round, tough match. That's what I want. So it's gonna be perfect to test myself.
Q. Speaking of Elena, the other day she said when she played you in Australia she didn't know what to expect. Obviously the backhand has never gone away, but she was surprised by your forehand. Today you hit a big winner on a cross court point. Have you beefed up your forehand at all?
JUSTINE HENIN: My backhand has always been the most natural shot, but all the time in my career I had to work very hard on my forehand.
Even if, you know, it's not maybe doesn't look that beautiful, I know that pays, you know. It gives me a lot more winners, a lot more than on the backhand side.
But, no, generally I just have to play aggressive and play the game I played in Australia and just try to improve every day. The hardest part when you stop is to keep the concentration all the time and to keep the intensity.
You know, it's ups and downs, and it's quite normal at the beginning.
Q. We were pelting Elena with questions about whether she felt unlucky having drawn you twice early. I'll turn that back on you. Do you feel unlucky in having drawn her this early? But at this point in your comeback, does it matter where you play the top players?
JUSTINE HENIN: No, it doesn't matter for myself. I mean, I love this kind of situation because I know I'll have to give my best and to play my best.
I don't feel lucky, unlucky. I just feel happy to be back on the courts. And, of course, I mean, Indian Wells the draw seemed like I could do something and lost in the second round.
So I don't think it doesn't mean anything for me. In Australia I was tough draw and I made it through the final, and in Brisbane, too.
In the past I always proved in these kind of situation I was a better player. So of course it's gonna be a tough match. And what I know is that coming very early in the tournament, I'll have to be, yeah, at the very good level and try to take the opportunities.
I'll have to be I'll have to, yeah, take my chances on the court and really be at a good level, like I've been in Australia and it's been a great match. The best we've played probably when we've played each other in the past.
Hope it's gonna be another good one.
Q. Are you happy with your game today, Justine?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, it's generally I'm happy. I mean, the way it happened on the court. I served much better, and 60% for me is quite doesn't happen that often, so I was happy about that.
A first match is never easy, especially after my loss in Indian Wells. You need to find your confidence back a little bit.
So you need a little bit of time to find a good rhythm on the court, so I think generally I mean, it's been okay.
Q. Match point, overhead, whiff; what happened on that one?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, that happens sometimes. No excuse about that. It was only a point in the match, so I forgot about that one.
Q. Did Elena show you anything new since, before your comeback?
JUSTINE HENIN: I thought she was a much better player when I've played her than when I retired. That's for sure. More consistent. Her serve improved a lot, and in Australia she was at a very high level.
She was probably with maybe Serena one of the really best players in the tournament so far. She's always because she's a fighter. She never gives up. She goes on everything, and with a lot of intensity.
So I know it's gonna be, yeah, a tough opponent one more time. But I think she's better now than in the past, yeah.
Q. Did you find a different game when you came back and you're in the locker room and saying, Who are all these people?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, I don't think so. Things are quite similar. I mean, new faces and kind of a new generation, also.
But still, I mean, at the top, when I see the girls that really go through the end of the tournaments, it's quite similar to the way it was when I stopped.
So not a lot of things have changed. Yeah, it's I have to get used to this again, you know, being in this atmosphere, and it's now only three tournaments that it's coming back like this. I need a little bit of time.
But I don't have the feeling that the woman's game has changed a lot.
Q. You and Kim obviously, many Grand Slam champions, Kim 2, you 7. Great comebacks. Right away you both had success. There is another woman on the tour coming back. Kimiko Date took 12 years off. She won her first round match today. Are you amazed by her? Can you see yourself in 12 years playing?
JUSTINE HENIN: I don't think so, no. (laughter.)
I think I'll be really far away from this, but it's just amazing. It looks like she enjoyed it a lot.
So I mean, I think it's more mental than physical at that point. She enjoys being out there, and it's been good to see her at this level, and, you know, want it and having the motivation to work hard.
I mean, it's not that easy, and she's been doing it for a long time and it's been a long time ago.
So a lot of respect.
Q. Yanina received the WTA's most improved reward today. That's probably not too much of a surprise. I wonder if you could just comment about her emergence on the scene.
JUSTINE HENIN: Yanina, you said?
JUSTINE HENIN: I mean, of course she improved a lot. She proved that she was a great player now, and I think I mean, for our country it's just unbelievable that we have another generation coming up, and very, very strongly.
Had the chance to play against her in Australia, and she pushed me a lot. She's a real fighter, too. So I think it's gonna be she's gonna keep improving for sure in the future. It's great to have her on the circuit, also.
Q. Did you find any differences in Jill Craybas' game today than when you played her years ago?
JUSTINE HENIN: It was long, long time ago, so I think in 2001. It's very hard to talk about it, yeah.
Q. Are you comfortable again, do you think, or do you think it's gonna take some time after you came back to be comfortable?
JUSTINE HENIN: I mean, it's not that easy to come back. I mean, Kim proved in August that she could come back. I proved it in January. But after that we have to confirm and we have you know, at the beginning there is no pressure; there's nothing.
After that, you're into it again. I mean, I was No. 1 when I retired, and now I have, you know, to build again. I know where I want to go, but I know it's gonna be gonna take a little bit of time, also.
So I see things more in long term plan, you know, and not in only a few tournaments. So I'm not as comfortable as I probably will be, I hope, in a few months.
It's very important to accept it and also to work hard and really work on the important things. But a comeback is new for myself. I mean, it's a situation I never had to face in the past.
I mean, I've been away from injuries and different kind of things, but you remain, I mean, mentally into your tennis. For two years I was somewhere else far away from the courts.
Like I said, the most difficult thing is to keep the concentration, the intensity. Also have to get used to the attention all the time on yourself. I wasn't used to it anymore, you know, signing autograph, having photo shooting, all these kind of things that take a lot of energy that is part of the job.
But it takes energy and puts pressure on yourself. It's gonna take a few tournaments that I feel comfortable again about this.
Q. Do you think that's actually harder than the physical comeback, is the mental, emotional, all the stuff you're talking about, the lack of privacy?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, physically it's not that easy. I mean, now it's getting better, but first three months it's been I mean, my body was sore and that's normal. Like I said, for two years I didn't do any sport, nothing at all.
Q. Nothing at all? Didn't run or...
JUSTINE HENIN: No, no, no, because I had surgery on my knee. I was tired of it. I was tired of being in the fitness and everything.
So I had to, I would say, work on my body again. I've worked very hard, but we have to go step by step also physically.
So we said before I started in Australia it's gonna take maybe six months to really physically feel at my best. We not 100% on that part, and we know it.
Mentally and emotionally, it's probably the hardest point, you know. Because what I did in the past is from the past, and now it's new. And I have, you know, to be patient. And like I said, it's not my biggest quality (laughter.)
But I keep working. I enjoy working. I enjoy being on the court. Of course, sometimes there is a little bit of frustration. I know what I can produce, but it's still I will need a little bit of time to really be there.
So it's just a question of, yeah...
Q. Is it hard for you to look and see your name next to No. 33?
JUSTINE HENIN: No.
Q. You don't pay any attention?
JUSTINE HENIN: I'm really proud of it. I was nothing a few months ago I mean, nothing. Nothing in tennis.
Because the most important thing also is that I know now that I am someone away from the courts, and that's probably the most important victory for myself in the last few years, I would say.
So I think 33 is a good number to start. I mean, yeah, I'm very proud of what I did in the past. I'm proud that I have been brave to come back to tennis and work hard. Even if I know that a comeback is difficult, I want to, yeah, get better, improve, and we will see.
Q. Do you feel the drive, desire, that hunger that you used to have?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yes, yes.
Q. To win?
JUSTINE HENIN: That's why I'm back. But of course, like I said, it's different steps that you have to go through, and it doesn't come in a day, you know.
You have to deal with different kind of things that I wasn't used to anymore. Just time will help me for that.
Q. When you missed that overhead on match point, is that something you just laugh at, it's a one off, or a little bit of a sign of, Hey, it's gonna take some time to get everything...
JUSTINE HENIN: No, it was these kind of things could happen. Maybe at that point, you know, I don't know what really happened. I mean, I forgot about this already.
No, I mean, that was the kind of things that could happen in the past, too.
Q. How can you explain your terrific start, then, in Australia?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, I took it as a bonus. I took it as a bonus, and I've been really focused on every point I was supposed to play, you know.
I was expecting everything in Australia. I mean, the best and the worst.
So there's almost been a perfect comeback, but at the beginning everything is always easy. I mean, you come back, you have no pressure, and you don't know what to expect.
If you go on the court, if you lose it's normal; if you win it's bonus. I really took it that way. After that, I felt like I was back into it.
But even in Australia I said it will take some time for myself. Because even if the results were there, my feeling on the court is different, and especially because I want to improve and I know I want to yeah, get a better ranking, of course, and win titles again.
But I need some time, of course.
Q. Being a woman I think I notice a ring on an interesting finger.
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, but nothing I mean, nothing that you can think about. I mean, it's not about in Australia everyone was crazy about my ring. No, it's nothing special about love, I would say. (laughter.)
Q. Thanks for clarifying.
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah.
Q. Was there some cathartic moment that made you come back? Was there some day, some thought, something you saw that made you come back, or was it a gradual thing?
JUSTINE HENIN: I think it was a gradual thing, and something pretty natural. Like I said, it was important for me to realize I could trust myself away from the courts.
When I started to trust myself and to realize that I was getting better, you know, I thought, well, it would be great to come back with this experience and the things I know now that I didn't know two years ago.
When I saw Roger also winning the French Open, started to think, well, I never won Wimbledon. Maybe I can make it as dream.
So it came very naturally, and no regrets about that.
Q. How was your first day back on the practice court after not doing any sports for all that time?
JUSTINE HENIN: It was difficult.
No, it was a great feeling just to take the racquet and say, Okay, I can be in love again, I would say, with my passion and with tennis, because when I stopped I was really tired of it.
So it was like I was in peace again, you know, with my sport and what drove me for so many years.
So there was a good feeling for that, and I knew it was going to be difficult. I mean, the six months I practiced and everything, but when you come back in competition it's still very different.
You're not prepared for this. I mean, it's just when you're facing the competition and the good things, the bad things, that you really realize how hard it is and the good work you have to do.
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