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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 00:05 GMT
Henman 'proud' of OBE
Tim Henman
Born: 6 Sept, 1974
Birthplace: Oxford
Lives: In London with wife and one-year-old daughter
First ATP title: Sydney (1997)
Masters titles:
One (Paris, 2003)
Career titles: 11
Grand Slam best: Wimbledon semi-finalist four times; quarter-finalist twice
British number one Tim Henman said he was "extremely honoured" to be become an OBE in the New Year Honours list.

"I will go to receive the honour with a massive amount of pride," said the 29-year-old from Oxfordshire.

Henman enjoyed the biggest success of his career in 2003, winning the Paris Masters in November.

The year had begun very differently for Henman as he returned from surgery a shadow of the player who had once reached number four in the world.

For Henman the victory, his first in a Masters tournament, reaffirmed his belief that he can win the title that matters most to him - the men's single crown at Wimbledon.

It is a dream that he has nurtured ever since he first glimpsed Centre Court at the age of six when his mother took him to watch Bjorn Borg.

Tennis and Wimbledon are in his blood, with his maternal grandfather having reached the third round and his paternal great-grandmother also playing at the All England Club.

Despite first picking up a racket when he was just two, Henman developed relatively late as a player, making his debut at Wimbledon as a 20-year-old.

He won his first match there the following year before being beaten by Pete Sampras, the man who would prove his nemesis on many occasions.

But Henman's singles performance that year was overshadowed by his doubles, when he became the first man to be disqualified from Wimbledon after accidentally hitting a ballgirl with a ball struck in anger.

It was ironic that Henman, generally seen as one of the sport's nice guys - and often accused by his critics of not showing enough winning aggression - should achieve this notoriety.

But happier times were ahead as Henman reached the semi-finals four times in five years, the first British man to reach the last four since Roger Taylor in 1973.

Twice he was beaten by Sampras, once by Lleyton Hewitt and once by Goran Ivanisevic - although many feel the weather, in the form of a crucial rain delay - was responsible for that last defeat.

Outside Wimbledon and off the grass surface that so suits his elegant serve-and-volley game, Henman's form has been less impressive, although he has won 11 titles.

He has also been a Davis Cup stalwart for Great Britain, tirelessly carrying the nation's hopes with little help from his team-mates other than Greg Rusedski.

Henman is without doubt the best home-grown player Britain has had for many years and has shouldered with courage and dignity the annual outbreak of "Henmania", including the burden of public expectation and the hysteria of an often-sniping media.

And his recent return to form has once again renewed hopes that "Tiger Tim" can do what no British man has done since 1936 - win the men's singles at Wimbledon.

Should that be the case, then the OBE is unlikely to be the last such honour Henman receives.

Henman claims Paris title
02 Nov 03  |  Tennis

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