Thursday, January 27, 2011

Haven't we heard this before?

Justine Henin has announcement her retirement--again.
Losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova last week in Melbourne and nursing an elbow injury she has had since Wimbledon last summer was apparently enough to make Henin reconsider this unretirement. I've never been a huge fan of Henin's, but her comeback was a little bit interesting--if only momentarily. I thought it--along with the comebacks of Clijsters, Hingis, and Davenport (with their respective and varying levels of success)--spoke more to the issues with the tour and women and professional sports more generally.
What will I remember about Henin?
The first time I saw her. US Open playing Anna Kournikova, whom she beat. She wore Le Coq Sportif back then (I have this weird memory for sports fashion) and had on a hat (which she continued to sport throughout her career). She was not as powerful and polished back then. But the one-handed backhand stuck out.
The French Open hand incident against Serena Williams--which I think the press made a little too much of for a little too long. Though it was not a shining example of sportspersonship and the perception of her as a little bit devious continues to inform my impressions of her.
And her throwing in the towel against Amelie Mauresmo at the Australian Open, which I think the press did not make enough of. That pretty much cemented my anti-Henin feelings. And the defenses of her behavior and demeanor that were explained by the perpetual discussions (not in her control I realize) of her bad childhood made me think that therapy would be more beneficial than sympathy.
In short, I'm not going to miss her.

Oh yeah. Rennae Stubbs announced her retirement as well. Though I couldn't find any news coverage of it. The Australian doubles specialist has been playing only doubles for some time now. She turns 40 March 26 (we share a birthday!! Though I will NOT be turning 40, for the record). Stubbs is out as a lesbian, though that never seemed to be mentioned much--at least not the way it makes news with other players (King, Navratilova, Mauresmo). Perhaps that has something to do with her affinity and success in doubles and not singles. She, like other players, was also kind of stealth about it. But apparently she has come to "embrace" her sexuality even though she is adamant that being gay is not a choice because no one would ever choose to be gay. I find the choice rhetoric problematic, but I hate the "no one would choose this" line--especially when it comes from someone as privileged as Stubbs.
I know reflections on retirement are supposed to be a little more positive. But I can't muster a whole lot of good words right now.


Diane said...

There were other incidents--not just the hand incident--involving Henin's dishonesty in matches. And the press, in my opinion, flew off with the sad childhood issue largely because Henin herself repeatedly made such a big drama about her "feelings," which someone always came across as being way more significant than other players' feelings. I really liked watching Henin, but her level of narcissism sometimes goes beyond my tolerance.

And retiring against Mauresmo in 2006 was something I still get angry about. Pam Shriver, cheeky thing that she is, made a point of reminding everyone about that right after Henin announced her second retirement.

Diane said...

Oops--I meant "somehow," not "someone."

lawlesseyes said...

Hooray for someone else feeling exactly like I do! And kudos to Pam Shriver. :)
I was never really a fan of Justines, admittedly she is an extremely gifted player. After the AO against Mauresmo. Pffft. I lost interest in her. I am so glad Amelie won the Wimbledon that year against Justine. Between the two, Amelies backhand had more finesse.
Maybe this time Justine will take a page from Amelie and just stay retired. All though, I would love to see Amelie play again. Even in a fun charity tournament.
Tennis lost a lot when Amelie retired, not so much with Justine.