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Page last updated at 19:09 GMT, Monday, 14 February 2011

Justine Henin in 'mourning' after ending her career

Justine Henin
Henin won 43 career singles titles

Justine Henin has likened her emotions after ending her playing career to being in mourning.

A persistent elbow problem led the 29-year-old Belgian to retire from tennis for the second time last month.

"I regard ending my career more like a sentence that's been handed down than a decision I've made," said seven-time Grand Slam winner Henin.

"The will is there, but physically I can't [carry on]. Now I have to mourn the end of my career."

Henin originally retired from the sport in 2008, having become disillusioned by life on the women's tour, but she returned to action in 2010.

The former world number one suffered a partial ligament fracture in her right elbow when she slipped while playing a fourth-round clash against compatriot Kim Clijsters at Wimbledon, requiring an operation.

She returned in October, aiming to start the 2011 campaign in top condition, only for the pain to return during the Australian Open.

"I've had to deal with a lot of injuries throughout my career but this time, at 29, I just can't go on," she said.

"You have to be reasonable about things. When I came back from Australia, I had consultations with three different doctors," she added.

"It got to the point that I needed 10 minutes in the morning just to get my elbow functional. The ligament wasn't solid enough to handle the intensity of the game.

"I'm going to miss all the great feelings you have as a professional tennis player. I hope I'll pick the racquet up again one day, but more than anything I want to live a normal life."

Henin was speaking on the day that Australian Open champion Clijsters, 27, who also took a two-year break from the sport, between 2007 and 2009, returned to the top of the rankings.

"What Kim has achieved is extraordinary," she added. "But I have always followed my own path and never based my career on what she has been doing."

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see also
Clijsters regains number one spot
11 Feb 11 |  Tennis
Injured Henin ends playing career
26 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Henin returns after elbow injury
29 Dec 10 |  Tennis
Elbow injury ends Henin's season
18 Aug 10 |  Tennis
Clijsters hits back to beat Henin
28 Jun 10 |  Tennis

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