MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA â€“ Tennis champion Justine Henin announced her retirement from professional tennis due to a career-ending elbow injury that has forced the Belgian to hang up her racquet.Â One of the WTAâ€™s greatest players and a seven-time Grand Slam champion, Henin retired from the sport for the first time in March 2008 and became the first woman in the history of professional tennis to retire while ranked World No.1.Â She made a successful comeback to tennis at the beginning of the 2010 season, reaching the final of the 2010 Australian Open and capturing two titles (the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart and the UNICEF Open in â€˜s-Hertogenbosch). Â During a fourth-round loss to Kim Clijsters at 2010 Wimbledon, Henin suffered a right elbow injury and did not play for the remainder of the 2010 season.
On her official website, Henin said the following: â€œI turn, and this time, an incredible page of my life … What a wonderful trip, I have experienced during all these years.Â Today I am calmer and I can create positive and rewarding look back on this experience in my lifeâ€¦Finally and most importantly, thanks everyone.Â Thanks for standing by my side during all these years. I will never forget your support and your loyalty.â€
â€œJustine Henin will go down as one of the greatest female athletes of her era.Â She has been an incredible ambassador for womenâ€™s tennis on and off the court, and her fighting spirit, tremendous courage and ultimate success has captured the minds and hearts of millions of fans around the world,â€ said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA.Â â€œWe have all been fortunate to once again have had the opportunity to witness the beauty of her game during these many past months, and no doubt we will miss seeing her on court competing like only Justine can.Â In her young career Justine has already done so much to inspire and give back to others, and I am sure this will continue to be a big part of the next chapter of her life.â€
Henin is a winner of 43 WTA singles titles â€“ including seven Grand Slam championships â€“ and has been ranked World No.1 for a total of 117 weeks (7th all time).Â She has amassed more than $20 million in career prize money and is leaving the sport with a win-loss record of 527-116.
But more importantly than any statistic, 5-foot, 5 Â¾-inch (1.67 m) Henin was renowned for her spectacular one-handed backhand, incredible athleticism and unrivalled mental fortitude and work ethic.
Among many accomplishments, Henin achieved the following:
Finished three seasons as the WTA World No.1 (2003, 2006, 2007)
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Won seven Grand Slam singles titles (Roland Garros 2003, 2005-07; Australian Open 2004; US Open 2003, 2007)
Won 43 singles titles, including seven Grand Slams, two season-ending WTA Championships (2006, 2007) and an Olympic gold medal in singles in Athens in 2004
Helped lead Belgium to its first Fed Cup title in 2001.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In 2007-08, set personal best 32-match winning streak, longest streak since Venus Williams in 2000 (35); in 2007, posted a 63-4 (0.94) winning record, the best percentage in womenâ€™s tennis since 1989 (Graf 86-2, 0.977)
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In 2006 became the seventh player in the Open Era to reach all four Grand Slam finals in the same calendar year (Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, and Martina Hingis).
After retiring from tennis in 2008, Henin turned her focus to charitable work, becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and traveling to Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in that role throughout 2009.Â She created the â€œJustine For Kidsâ€ association, the purpose of which is to help develop and fund projects to aid sick children and their families.Â Henin founded the â€œSixth Sense Academyâ€ in 2007 with coach Carlos Rodriguez which has five locations â€“ three in Belgium, one in Florida and the most recent one in China.