It looks like the rivalry between Justine Henin and Serena Williams that some thought saw its final chapter played out at last year’s Australian Open Women’s Singles Final may have a few more postscripts added before it’s put into the history books for good. Whether you want to call it strange coincidence or surreal timing, after yesterday’s interview by Henin on French TV saw her admit, among other things, that maybe she should have told the umpire she held up her hand during Williams’s first serve in the third set of their now infamous 2003 French Open semifinal, who could have predicted not even 24 hours later that Williams would not only respond to Henin’s confessions but then offer up a news item of her own that trumps whatever buzz or impact Henin’s interview may have had.
Williams, on her Twitter account, posted a question on hearing “…an admittance to someone cheating me & lying about it after at the French open? Did she confess finally?”
And then a few minutes later, Williams sent out a brief tweet with the news many had been hoping to hear, “Yes NO BOOT GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!”, referring to the medical boot Williams has been forced to wear since a foot injury suffered in Munich kept her out of the game since last July.
Personally, I never really cared about all the controversy that’s surrounded Henin and Williams and I found it funny to read and watch the American media here pour over English transcripts of Henin’s comments to try and glean some morsel that will help finally explain Henin’s actions over the years. I’m not sure why Henin chose now to give such an interview so soon after her retirement in January. Perhaps she just wants to get everything out there and move on with her life. Perhaps like Andre Agassi, she wants to have the final say and come clean on those thorny moments in her career before she’s considered for the Hall of Fame in a few years time. Who knows?
As for Serena, well now that the boot is off, questions will mount on when she will return to action in the WTA. She’s still scheduled to compete in Miami next month, and I hope she can, but is it realistic? Rushing back to competition could cause further injury but we’ll just have to wait and see on what the former No. 1 has planned.
Until then, instead of dwelling on things that were said or not said almost ten years ago, I’d rather remember that match last year in Melbourne as being the highlight of the Henin/Williams rivalry. Two players pushing each other, in their first and only Grand Slam final meeting, to play their very best when it meant the most.
Maybe someday they will too.