Justine Henin has long been a rival of the Williams sisters, most notably Serena. Much of the friction between the two dates back to the 2003 French Open when Henin and Serena played in the semis. During the third set, Henin raised her hand to indicate she wasn’t ready to receive a serve from Serena. Serena served into the net and expected to repeat her first serve because Henin had told her to wait. When the point was brought up to the chair umpire, he deferred to Henin who kept silent in an unsportsmanlike move. Henin went on to win the match, coming back from down 4-2 in the final set. From that point on, the two were clear rivals, resulting in moments of profanity by Serena.
Now, years later, Henin has addressed that issue and several controversies from her career.
In an interview with a Belgian TV station, Henin talked about the hand incident from the French Open and seemed to indicate she kept quiet because of fear. Here’s the translation from tennis.com as relayed by OnTheGoTennis: “If I had been convinced that she had seen it, had been bothered by it, I might have reacted. But you react on instinct. At the same time what happened was magic. I don’t know if that changed the match. I hope I’m not saying that in bad faith.
Maybe it was a way to give me respect, because you know that Williams have an attitude, sometimes difficult. They play with a lot of intimidation. know that the Williams had attitudes that were sometimes difficult. Today, it doesn’t scare me any more.”
So Henin essentially said she was looking for an edge on the court and needed all the help she could get to stand up to Serena. The strategy did work because she came back to win the match. As for head-to-head, Serena leads 8-6 in their careers. Oh, and if coming clean on the hand incident wasn’t enough, Henin admits now that she cheated on a 2004 call in the Australian Open finals against Kim Clijsters. She’s not exactly the most sportsmanlike person around, and she drops in my book for that reason.