“I said to my mom: one day I will play here and win the title”: Justine Henin looks back on her period at Roland Garros

Justine Henin (41) and Roland Garros go hand in hand. Just as is actually the case with Rafael Nadal. Our compatriot won four of her seven Grand Slam titles in Paris. The Parisian clay court is the tournament she cherishes the most.

“When I saw Steffi (Graf, ed.) play at the age of five or six, I immediately imagined the future and wanted to be exactly like her,” admits the 41-year-old from Liège. “My first memory of Roland Garros was in 1992 when, as a 10-year-old girl, I could watch the final between Steffi Graf and Monica Seles from the stands. I was sitting with my mother barely five meters away from the court and both players. Watching Graf play had a profound influence on me. I remember saying to my mom: ‘One day I will be the one to play here and I will win the title.’ Since then it became my main goal. I could watch Roland Garros matches for hours at home and nothing or anyone could take my attention away,” said Henin, who reached her first final there in 2003. Her opponent? Kim Clijsters. “I especially wanted to win with my mother in mind: ‘Look, I have fulfilled my dream’.

“Between 2003 and 2007 I was lucky enough to be one of the best female players. The highlight came in 2007 because I also won the US Open that year. I played the best tennis of my career.” This also gave her the number one position in the world rankings at the time. “Whenever I pass by at Roland Garros, I still feel that I am coming home here.”

In addition to Roland Garros, she also won the overall victory at the Australian Open (2004), Wimbledon (2001 & 2006) and the US Open (2003 & 2007).

The complete interview, in which Henin also talks about how she experienced the matches against “the greatest champion” Serena Williams:

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