Justine Henin-Hardenne is back.
At a time when women's tennis was dominated by the Williams sisters, a frail-looking Belgian teenager burst onto the scene with grit, pluck, and the sweetest backhand in professional tennis. And Im talking about both the men';s and women's tours. She's the single reason why I switched from a two-handed backhand to a one-handed backhand. After Henin-Hardenne showed me how it's done, I now think two-handed backhands are sissy. I never liked the Williams sisters style of play. It was all power, all athleticism, and not enough elegance. Looking at Henin-Hardenne, you wouldnt give her a chance against the big, strong players like Venus and Serena, Or Davenport, or Mauresmo. But then she started consistently beating Venus and Serena, and I started becoming interested in women's tennis again. Maria Sharapova helped too of course, for reasons that had very little to do with tennis. In 2004, Henin-Hardenne saddled by various injuries, Sharapova made women's tennis a bit interesting, mainly because of the media hype about her supermodel looks.
Henin-Hardenne won't be a multi-media superstar. She isnt photogenic. But put a racket in her hand and watch her weave her magic.