Monday, November 19, 2007

Will the media please just stop it about Henin's family?

Justine Henin's siblings and father continue to get on my nerves, as do members of the tennis press (I know--what else is new?), who have made the big Henin family reunion their sappy tennis story of the year. The fact of the matter is that Henin was treated terribly by these people when she "betrayed" her father and decided she should have her own life instead of being Cinderella. Now that they have reunited, her family members--who never went to see her play and who took no interest whatsoever in her career, despite her status as one of the best tennis players in recent history--act like they are experts on her game.

After she won Roland Garros this year, one of her siblings was on television, babbling about what Paris "means to Justine." Like he would know. And now her father--who, let me remind you--was not in Paris for the French Open--is expressing opinions on Henin's Wimbledon preparation. Sorry--I don't buy any of this. And if I'm wrong, and there really is a sincere reunion, Henin's family members still need to shut up about her game until they have watched her play for a while.

(Thanks to On the Baseline for the Daily Mail article.)


Anonymous said...

I meant to comment earlier on this. I fully agree that Henin's dad needs to stay completely on the sidelines, as far as her tennis is concerned, if he wants to hang onto the recent reconciliation! What I want to draw your attention to is a quite fascinating book, published in 2004, by British sports writer Mark Ryan. The title is "Tie-break!" and the subtitle is "Justine Henin-Hardenne, Tragedy & Triumph." (It is little-known in the United States but may be available from time to time on Amazon or direct from the publisher, Robson Books in London.) Ryan spent a great deal of time with Justine's father, and some with her siblings and other relatives, at a time when it seemed she had severed the ties to her family to a remarkable degree -- perhaps permanently. Ryan writes almost from the perspective of Jose Henin and the other family members, lamenting the "tie-break" at the same time as admiring Justine's tremendous accomplishments. There is in-depth commentary on the cause for the estrangement, much of it focusing on Carlos and Pierre-Yves Hardenne. At first I thought it was going to be a hatchet job, but in the end I have to say that Ryan seems pretty even-handed in his portrayal of all the principals in the soap opera. Also, at 224 pages Ryan covers Justine's career and most all her important matches, some in very interesting detail, from her childhood through the first few months of 2004. The account ends just prior to when Henin was diagnosed with the nasty virus that sidelined her for much of the rest of 2004. Anyway, there is detail here -- and many insights into what factors that made Justine who she is today -- that simply are not available elsewhere. If you can find it (not easy!) or order it, it's well worth the read. Incidentally, I see that Henin's father and both brothers, along with Carlos and his entire family -- just appeared with Justine on a Belgian TV extravaganza in her honor. So for now everyone seems to be doing well. Will there be more drama ahead though? Jen

Diane said...

That does sound interesting. Thanks for the input, Jen.

I hope Justine returns to Charleston this year; it wasn't the same without her last year.

Anonymous said...

It would be great to see Justine back at Charleston, Diane. Unfortunately, I put the chances at about 25% only. I expect her to go a bit light on her 2008 schedule prior to her assault on Wimbledon. Charleston is probably too close to Miami (required) for her. Still, there is a chance if she skips Indian Wells before Miami, which is likely. My best guess on her schedule, however:

Australian Open
French Open
US Open
Tour Championships

That's 13 events, one less than this year when she didn't even play the first two, so certainly there is room to add a bit. (In the past it was Eastbourne, for one thing. But many of her followers think Carlos will try to bring her into Wimbledon less tired and letting Eastbourne go is only way to do it short of skipping Roland Garros.)

What really fascinates me is the prospect of Justine playing the French, Wimbledon, Olympics, and US Open in succession, with no intervening events. What pressure!

Anonymous said...

CORRECTION to last post! I do not see Warsaw on the WTA calendar for 2008. I had thought Justine would want to defend her title there. If no Warsaw, that definitely increases the chances for a Henin sighting at Charleston, wouldn't you think? :>