Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Quote For The Day

“Because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself as a grass-court player. Because I am always scared of playing the Williams sisters on grass, especially Venus. Part of the reason I lost to [Marion] Bartoli in the [2007] semi-final was because I was scared to face Venus in the final.” --Justine Henin

(Thanks, Karen)

13 comments:

Karen said...

I tell you I think it is the most honest interview that I have ever read by any player, male or female. I am not going to focus on the fear that she felt, because those of us who have followed tennis for many years know that whether the powers that be say it or not, when it comes to tennis, the WS are the ones to beat, especially at Wimbledon. The record that they have there speaks for itself. That being said, to have a player who the powers that be hold up as having the best game on the women's tour, who they feel is the player that but for the fact that she retired certain players would not have won any majors, to have her speak so clearly about her fear of playing a particular player is telling. I would love, if only once before I die to really see Venus Williams on grass. I understand that to see those long legs in little white shorts or a white dress striding across the green grass of Wimbledon is the 8th wonder of the world - or at least that is what Pete Bodo says and we all know he is in love with Venus' legs.

Beth said...

Very honest indeed. She was just so upfront and so frank. Very nice to read and a real 'inside' look into the mind of a tennis player. I hope she really does believe that it will be different if she faces the WS because if she is still harboring that fear, it will never work out for her. We have talked many times about how Federer beats others before he even meets them on the court. Well, it sounds like this has been the same story for Justine with the WS. Let's hope she finds the belief in herself and can make a great comeback for herself and for we tennis fans.

Thanks for sharing Karen!

Karen said...

No worries Beth. A lot of people actually are ripping her about this interview, but I actually commend her for it. I think being able to face your fears is one thing, but to be able to articulate that fear for all the world to see is quite brave. I am anxiously awaiting the new season. As for Federer, I think in some ways it is similar. Nadal said it years ago, he says that Federer forced him to change every aspect of his game. He had to change the way how he approached the game and know that he had to constantly improve his game. Same thing with the women's tour. You see players now having to ensure that they have good serves, good ground strokes, be willing to come in and attack the net, be willing to not only go after the return, but step inside the baseline and go toe to toe with the WS. Who knew. Richard must be laughing like crazy right now.

Karen said...

you cannot make this stuff up - Serena's most recent blog entry
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=396948

HoiHa said...

Well Henin being honest in an interview is a good start - now let's see if she can take that "new found honesty" and apply it to her game.

Craig Hickman said...

I don't know. How much raw honesty does it take to admit Serena and Venus intimidate you at Wimbledon? I'd imagine most, if not all, WTA players feel that way.

Thing is, the sisters aren't the only players who've stood between Henin and the Venus Rosewater dish.

Her first-round loss to Eleni Daniilidou in 2005 was shocking only to those who didn't know who Daniilidou was and certainly not to Henin who, to her credit, admitted beforehand that she'd be lucky to get out of that match.

She wasn't lucky that day.

And what stopped her from winning in 2006 when she was up a set and a break in the final over just-retired Amelie Mauresmo, who will go down as one of the biggest choking champions in tennis history?

I saw Henin's semifinal against Marion Bartoli from first point to last. Henin doesn't give the Frenchwoman enough credit. Bartoli never gave up, never gave in. Two games from defeat, she switched into another gear and started taking the ball even earlier, producing flat angles Henin could only slice if she got to them. Bartoli outplayed her in the forecourt, leaving the crowd in awe with one winning exchange. But most surprisingly, Bartoli tricked her with her serve. In short, Bartoli asked the kinds of questions in grass court tennis for which Henin had no answers.

Venus awaiting in the finals didn't seem to scare Bartoli and I have a hard time believing it mattered all that much to Henin.

But whatever.

For all sorts of reasons, I see Henin as a coward and this interview doesn't change that.

Matt said...

I'm with you Craig - no credit was given to Marion in this interview when it was certainly due. MB played the best match of her career that day.

Pamela said...

All I can say is game on! I'm ready for 2010 already. I mean, it took her 3 sets, eyeballing her coach and yelling at him mid-match to beat a hobbled Serena without a backhand. I want the rematch. I'm sure Serena does too. I honestly don't think she stands a chance against Venus in the latter rounds unless Venus is severely injured (or having a 50+ error day). I'm not her biggest fan but Venus on grass is unequaled - including her sister.

Pamela said...

Oh, and I don't get the point of admitting fear of your opponent when you're active? That's just added pressure to yourself. It's not like it's shocking news. She's not changed that much. Even in her exhibition match with Flipkens .. FLIPKENS .. she was still eyeing her coach with that "whatever shall I do?" look. Great player but ...

Craig Hickman said...

Pamela, I think Henin is simply making excuses here instead of admitting she simply hasn't been good enough to win the title. Like I asked, who or what was she afraid of in 2006? Serena didn't even play and Venus was graveyarded in the third round.

Dapxin said...

Whatever you Tennis people say,
I say roll on 2010!
And doesnt it feel like yesterday we all felt good cross the 1999-2000 time conundrum ?

This should be interesting...

b said...

NB I wrote the message below without reading the comments so if I'm reiterating something then it's not intentional...
======================
This is not surprising, I'm just surprised she said it so clearly. So now is the message that she's asking the organiser's to order up yet another "special draw" for her at wimbledon - a la federer at the FO?

Further, I've commented before on her startling lack of confidence, in proportion to her talents and have concluded that it was poor coaching, including cheating, that was responsible for it. Further it just seems that Henin's relationship with Rodriguez is overly dependent and inn appropriate..... I do not think that I would give him a vulnerable motherless, grieving pre-teenage girl from a troubled home to coach and have enormous influence over..... (Interpret that statement however you like)

The hand thing would never have happened with a player who believed in herself....

And yes, I'm not surprised she returned b/c was always under the impression that the sudden retirement and absence was due to some sort of back-alley agreement over a possible failed drug test or something of that nature..... I thought so at the time and still believe it. Lets say that something funny happened, some scandal, rather than resolve the matter (e.g. testing the b-sample, or clarifying a story or how her name got onto a certain doctor's list) they had a mutual agreement that "for the sake of the sport", she would "retire"/"sit out" the amount of time that she would have if she'd been given a suspension for something..... but all w-out not admitting any guilt and keeping WTA's nose clean.....

Given the recent confessions by Agassi I hope more people are willing to consider this theory than there were a while back..... This is what I've always believed to be the case, and given their comments, I think Craig and Savannah also had their suspicions that something wasn't right....

edma1022 said...

b said...

"... So now is the message that she's asking the organiser's to order up yet another "special draw" for her at wimbledon - a la federer at the FO? "

Excuse me? Federer 'ordered' a special FO draw?

I suppose you have proof of this?

Oh wait, never mind.