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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2007, 06:21 GMT 07:21 UK
Henman signs off with no regrets
Tim Henman
Henman finished with victory in front of his adoring Wimbledon audience

By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Fate has dealt Tim Henman some cruel blows at Wimbledon over the years - but there was no final sting in the tail on Saturday.

Henman, with Jamie Murray alongside him, took his fans on one final rollercoaster ride before exiting his favourite stage, the applause of 11,400 fans on Court One ringing in his ears.

It was, he said later, "the perfect ending".

Rarely one for a grand gesture, Henman did provide the photographers with the picture they craved by gathering up four-year-old daughter Rosie before taking his leave.

"She wasn't quite sure what was going on," Henman said.

"After I said a couple of times, 'Come on, they're waving, I'm waving, why don't you wave?' she was alright."

I don't have any qualms about what I've put in, how committed I've been and how hard I've worked

Tim Henman

Rosie, her younger sister Olivia and eight-day-old Grace are three very good reasons why Henman walks away from tennis with, as he said himself, no regrets.

Henman fans and Henman detractors - and there are plenty of both - may abandon all sense of perspective but that has never been a problem for the man himself.

The 33-year-old, Britain's most successful player since Fred Perry, has always been able to offer the most accurate assessment of his career.

"Sure I've had disappointments," said Henman, perhaps recalling that agonising five-set semi-final defeat to Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in 2001.

"But I look back on my career and I don't have any qualms about what I've put in, how committed I've been and how hard I've worked.

Highest ranking: 4
Titles: 11
Win/Loss record: 496-274
Davis Cup W/L: 40-14
Prize money: 5,750,000
Aus Open best: 4th rd (2000, 2002)
French Open best: Semi-final (2004)
Wimbledon best: Semi-final (1998, 1999, 2001, 2002)
US Open best: Semi-final (2004)
"There's a big debate about what success is. I just know that at every opportunity I've given 100% and you can't ask any more than that.

"If anyone is asking for more than that then you're up against it."

He was the consummate professional to the last.

Playing alongside the older Murray brother on Saturday, Henman constantly cajoled his nervy partner, urging him to take one point at a time.

On a day he knew would almost certainly be his last in professional tennis, it was Henman keeping the younger man's emotions in check.

"We spoke last night in the team room and said that we'd given ourselves a great foundation by going 2-0 up but the job wasn't done," said Henman.

"I think that was evident with how committed we were.

"On a personal note, I'm really proud of the way I played but this was about getting Great Britain back into the World Group and we accomplished that very well."

Henman and eldest daughter Rosie
Henman convinced daughter Rosie to wave for photographers
How Britain will fare in the World Group without him is a question for another day and probably not one that will worry Henman for the time being.

It was noticeable that while he struggled to keep the tears back on Friday, he could not stop smiling on Saturday.

He was clearly looking forward to that night's celebrations - and the thought that he would not have to worry about the state of his head on Sunday.

He said, without hesitation, it was "not tough at all" to walk away.

Henman has always earned sympathy for bearing the burden of a nation's unrealistic expectations but he has never courted it.

Tennis has made him a millionaire and being this country's best exponent has probably doubled that income.

The reality is that when Wimbledon comes round on 23 June 2008, it is us who will probably be feeling a strange sense of longing.

Henman will be at total ease, surrounded by his cherished family, and will doubtless allow himself a wry smile as Murray-mania erupts.

Davis Cup day two photos
22 Sep 07 |  Tennis
Henman - farewell at Wimbledon
22 Sep 07 |  Tennis


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