Clijsters and Henin eye Olympic doubles
Originally published on: 10/12/10 09:22
Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin are considering the prospect of joining forces for the doubles event at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Belgian duo have teamed up just once before, when Belgium lost to Russia in the Fed Cup in 2006, but the former world No.1s are pondering the idea of competing alongside one another once again in two years’ time.
Despite being compatriots and their birthdays falling within a year of one another, Clijsters and Henin have not always shared the easiest relationship off-court.
There has always been respect tinged with a certain edge when the open, Flemish-speaking Clijsters and cool Francophone Henin have faced one another – but their relationship has mellowed since their respective returns that has made a once unlikely alliance possible.
“There is a real willingness to be there,” said Henin, who won the singles gold medal at the Athens Games in 2004. “We can already think about it. Everything is open to consider this.”
Clijsters, who has never competed at an Olympic Games, has hinted that it could be the perfect way to end her career: going out in style with her compatriot at the All England Club, where an invitation to the Centre Court Celebration in 2009 proved to be the launchpad for her second career.
“Because of my family situation, the doubles game is not something I want to get hung on too much,” said the world No.3.
“It would be nice of course to do it for the Olympic Games, because I tell myself that that year might be my last full season. So it would be nice to end that season in beauty.”
Clijsters, 27, has had plenty of success since coming back from retirement 18 months ago, winning her second successive US Open title in September and following it up by capturing her third WTA Championships crown last month in Doha.
Henin, meanwhile, got her own return from retirement this season off to a great start, reaching the final of the Australian Open, but an elbow injury picked up at Wimbledon forced the seven-time Grand Slam champion out for the rest of the season.
“For sure, I’m still not 100%,” admitted the world No.12. “But if I realise where I came from, I am lucky and happy to be where I am now. I thought at some time that I would never get back.”
The 28-year-old will begin her Australian Open preparation, which begins on 17 January, by competing in the Hopman Cup for Belgium in Perth alongside Ruben Bemelmans, who replaces the injured Steve Darcis.