Justine Henin surprised the tennis world by announcing her retirement from the sport on Wednesday, totally unexpectedly for everyone. Today, Henin’s official website published the full version of the Belgian’s speech at the press conference.
It’s a great day in my life, I believe that you can call it that. I’m here today to announce to you that I am putting a definitive end to my tennis career. I know that it is a shock for many people and a surprise, but for me it’s decision I’ve thought about for sometime now. It is not a decision which I made because of a simple defeat in Berlin. I’ve thought about it in my head for sometime, for a few months already, since the latter month of 2007. It’s an end to a beautiful adventure.
Perhaps, people will think that I am still young, but there are no rules. I invested enormously in my sport, since the age of five. I always lived for tennis, and it’s without regret because I lived emotions which I will never forget. Images engraved in my heart and my memory, and I am sure it’s in the heart and the memory of many of you too. Today a page has turned.
I don’t feel sadness, but rather a delivery, a relief, a glance towards the future. I always seek to build and change, and not only by tennis. I believe that tennis gave me many beautiful things, but I want to do it by returning to the essentials. I based my life on the relationships, the love and all that I could give to tennis. But I couldn’t manage to express it anymore these past months. I thought about it a lot. I made this decision by myself in my little corner, with the support of my family, off course. But I wanted to make the decision for me. I am very, very proud. You need courage to arrive at this conclusion.
I felt that six months or even one year later I would have a harsh bitter taste if I continued, and that things won’t get better than what happened these last few months. But today, I can speak about my sport, all that I lived with a smile, very beautiful things happened and they are in my heart. I have a desire to create new things. The future for me is to live with my decision, and to realize my new goals. To assume it and breathe again.
There are no bad things ahead for me. I feel that I have the qualities and capacities, to communicate and raise many new projects. I’m sure I will see things much more clearly when the time comes. The first is my Foundation. It’s really very important for me to be able to continue to help these children, to live precious moments with them. To continue to give them a chance to dream. We’re here at my home. Right in my tennis academy. This is something which I will continue to support, off course with Carlos. He’ll be stronger and valuable here. I have confidence in other future projects. There are peak performance workshops and seminars with Carlos and Nexum/Nexp in the area of human resources.
Off course, there are gratitudes to give. The first of which is to Carlos – I say thank. You are once more at my side. It’s 12 years together that we lived, and you held me up. 12 years to believe in me. You never abandoned me. He was always very discrete and standing in the shadows when I won because he didn’t want to intrude on my family and friends. But at other times, the difficult moments he made his presence known. He always respected me, and I must say since last week Thursday he still impresses me. The calm and patience he gave me. The incredible amount of support. I know he will always be strong and at my side. I am really very proud of this because tennis is a solo sport. It is undoubtedly my more exquisite thing of pride – the human adventure that I lived with him. And I believe that if Carlos had said to me one day, “Ju for family reasons or some other reason. Please don’t feel obligated. You can let me go”. It was obvious to me that we would still continue as a team even if my tennis career stopped. We’re powerful together, and this is why it worked so well.
Our relationship was much bigger than coach and a player. We passed all the tests, but from now on it will be different, it will be more beautiful. I’m grateful to his family – his wife and children who will get more of their father. And the thought of this makes me smile today. It’s also a relief to know there won’t be these difficult moments, these separations. They really have a big place in my heart.
I would like to, off course, thank my family – my parents, Dad, Mom, because I’m here today only because of you. Everything is fine thanks to you. My brothers and sister too. I have to admit that my role as older sister makes me very happy. There are great things which await us. My friends here today. It was great spending time with you and I’m sure there’s more ahead for us, bigger things, more honest and stronger. My Godmother is here. Gene, thank you for your role in my life it was very important. My staff obviously. You can only build something large with a faithful team. And they were always available and believed in me. Thank you for being there. It wasn’t an individual sport, but a team sport.
Thank You to all my sponsors, the current ones and those from the very beginning because without people who believe – you cannot get there. Thank You to the AFT, the WTA, the COIB and all the people who counted on me.
Thank You to all my fans. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to give them excitement. I hope I brought a little sunshine in their lives. We spent such great moments together. I hope that everyone can understand and that everyone will support me in the beginning of this new life…
Thank you very much.
(photos via Tennis Forum)