x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Henin given wildcard place at Australian Open

The former world No 1 is handed a major boost on returning to tennis after a 15 month retirement.

Justine Henin has won seven grand slam titles.
Justine Henin has won seven grand slam titles.

Justin Henin's comeback will gather pace at next year's Australian Open with tournament organisers granting the Belgian a wildcard for the season-opening grand slam. The 27-year-old former world No 1 will return to the scene of her 2004 triumph following the warm-up event at the Brisbane International. It will be Henin's first major tournament after returning from over a year out of the game. "I spoke to Justine's team over the weekend and was happy to grant her request for a wildcard into the Australian Open," the tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement. "Justine is the ultimate competitor, the winner of seven grand slam titles, and we are looking forward to welcoming her back to the Australian Open.

"I know Justine will not have made the decision to come out of retirement lightly, and have no doubt she will be in great shape and prepared to compete against the world's best." Henin was a dominant figure in women's tennis for a long stretch, winning a total of 41 WTA Tour titles and holding the world's top ranking for 117 non-consecutive weeks. The Belgian gave up tennis in May 2008, blaming a succession of injuries and a desire to live life away from the game. She will be looking to emulate the achievement of countrywoman Kim Clijsters, who returned from retirement to win the US Open last month. * PA Sport