Tuesdays January 18, 2011
Justine Henin's interview after her win over Sania Mirza at the Australian Open 2011
MELBOURNE, Australia--(LadyDragon.com)18/01/11--Justine Henin's interview after her win over Sania Mirza at the Australian Open 2011
Q. Sania started off extremely well this evening. Did that take you by surprise? Having done that, how pleased were you at your recovery?
JUSTINE HENIN: Well, I was ready it could be a tough match because she's not a qualifier like maybe the others, as she has been in this type of situation. She has been in the top 30, I think. She can play a very solid tennis. So the beginning wasn't that easy for me. She was playing high rhythm, not a lot of mistakes at the beginning, and it was tough for me because I was running a lot. To get into the match, that wasn't the perfect situation for me to come into the tournament. But, of course, there are many things we can talk about wasn't that good in my game. But I think my attitude has been very positive. So I really kept fighting in the second set when I was feeling a bit down at that time. Every point started to count a lot, and I think after that I could act on the match at that time. So I'm glad, because it wasn't an easy draw for me to start into the tournament.
Q. So you can take a tremendous amount of satisfaction from the way you responded?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah. Well, in the fact that I have been fighting a lot. Tonight it wasn't easy. I wasn't playing my best tennis, and she was doing a lot of winners, a lot of mistakes, and that wasn't very easy to find a rhythm.
But it's in this kind of situation that you have to remain calm. That's what I did, so I'm pleased about that.
Q. Can you say in percentage terms how close you are to form and fitness at the moment?
JUSTINE HENIN: It's always very hard to say, to answer this kind of question. I think physically I'm probably better than a year ago. And I'm getting there. I mean, it's been my first official match in the last six months. So it's not just one week that you find everything (snapping fingers).
But the passion is back. I know I came through difficult moments in the last few months. But now I'm here, and I'm very happy about that.
Q. Don't you think you've had so much experience that if you play a couple matches you might be able to play your way into the tournament?
JUSTINE HENIN: I think I need this kind of match exactly to, yeah, really be into the tournament like I want to be and be at my best level. I know it can go very quickly at this level.
Of course, I have the experience, but I need matches, I need rhythm, and I need fight, like tonight. And I remain confident, not only about the tournament but for the future.
I was feeling a bit nervous, actually very nervous, before walking on the court. Even if you have the experience, a first round of a Grand Slam, especially after a long injury, you never know really what to expect. So I can be happy with that. Now I want to keep going.
Even if I know I've been in a lot of trouble the last few months, I still have a lot of ambition, and this kind of match I think is going to help.
Q. Do you know much about your next opponent from Britain?
JUSTINE HENIN: Not at all. But we're going to prepare the match tomorrow. I never met her. I think I never saw her playing.
But it's good. I have to be focused on my game and have a good recovery and try to do my best and win on Wednesday.
Q. You mentioned previously that you need to warm your elbow up before you can play properly. I'm just wondering, how do you feel after the match? Is there much pain there? How do you pull up the next day?
JUSTINE HENIN: Even if I know the problem is there and it's going to be there for probably a little longer, I just try to stay focused on what's really important, my game and how I feel physically generally. So I just try to forget a little bit about this.
I know I will do all the treatments and everything we have to do. But mentally for me it's important also that I can just put my mind somewhere else on something very important, on my game right now.
Q. Before you retired, your serve was very good, very consistent, pretty strong. Then when you came back, you and Carlos decided to change a couple things maybe to add a little more speed. Do you feel that was the right decision? Why do you think you really needed to change a stroke that was working so well?
JUSTINE HENIN: It was important more speed but try to be a little bit more consistent in terms of percentage. And I think during last year, I mean, I have never served as good as I was serving last year in Miami. Even in Wimbledon I was serving very good.
So it was important changes. We know I'm not that tall, that strong as the other players. We know it's not my biggest weapon. But I remain, yeah, confident that we can go to the next step on my serve. Now it's still a bit hard after the injury on the elbow. But I'm glad about what we did technically.
I've been laughing so much about my serve, because I think we tried 20 different ways to serve. You know, I'm just 1 meter 66, so it's not that big. Technically it has to be perfect on every serve. I cannot compensate with a strong shoulder and being tall. It has to be perfect.
Sometimes it's getting down, but I still think that it was the right choice.
Q. Elena Baltacha has been through an awful lot in her life, a lot of serious illnesses, difficult injuries, and at 27 is still out there battling. Not exactly the same way, but like you she finds sport as a reassurance for her to keep going. Can you see in a sense a similarity there where you've acquired sport to keep your perspective on life?
JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, of course. It's been helping me a lot in my life. That is true.
In another way, it's very difficult all the time to find the good balance, because sometimes you have to be so much focused that everything that happens in your personal life you, yeah, keep it away a little bit.
But it's true, it gave me so much strength, yeah, after I lost my mom and everything. I got the fire when I was on the tennis court. It was for me helping me a lot not to forget about the hard times but to find a sense to my life. That's what tennis brought me.
I think sport has something great. It pushes you to go really deep in yourself. You have to push your limits all the time. Yeah, it's very good, but it's very hard in a lot of ways because it's a lot of pressure that you have to deal with.
It's a beautiful life. It's not an easy life. But I think we are all very lucky to do that. It's just very important to never forget that we are persons before being athletes.
And if you find this balance, well, that's the best. I start to be at this step, to find a good balance. I'm very happy about that.
Q. Do you sympathize at all with Wozniacki and maybe Safina coming to the No. 1 ranking without a Grand Slam and all the questions that they face?
JUSTINE HENIN: It's not that easy. Of course we wish that to be No. 1 you have to win Grand Slams. I think - as I was thinking about that in the last few days - if I have to remember something, it wasn't really that I was the best player in the world, but it's all the Grand Slams I won. That's what gives really the emotions.
So of course they have been very consistent, not injured, so they could play. Wozniacki is still very young. Safina has been in trouble. Jankovic I think played a lot and also has been tired from that at a certain time of her career.
But I wish them to win Grand Slams because they will feel the difference. When I became No. 1, I was so happy because it was in 2003. I did win the French, US Open that year, and I think it was big accomplishment, the dream of a little girl to be the best in the world.
But the feelings you get at the second you win a Grand Slam, yeah, winning a Grand Slam, it's seven matches, two weeks, it's the hardest, I think. Serena proved that many times as she, you know, didn't play a lot, but in the big moments she was there. And I think it's the most important.