Maturing Henin sets sights on leisurely retirement

BERLIN Mon May 5, 2008 5:05pm BST

Justine Henin of Belgium eyes the ball during her match against Serena Williams of U.S. at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida April 1, 2008. Henin said on Monday she had set her sights on a future of leisurely travel and adult education as a way of making all the sacrifices required of her seem worthwhile. REUTERS/Robert Sullivan

Justine Henin of Belgium eyes the ball during her match against Serena Williams of U.S. at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida April 1, 2008. Henin said on Monday she had set her sights on a future of leisurely travel and adult education as a way of making all the sacrifices required of her seem worthwhile.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Sullivan

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BERLIN (Reuters) - World number one Justine Henin said on Monday she had set her sights on a future of leisurely travel and adult education as a way of making all the sacrifices required of her seem worthwhile.

Henin, aged 25 and with seven Grand Slam titles to her name, has already started cutting back on her schedule and is planning for a retirement she said could come in the next two to five years.

"I'm young in life, but starting to get old on the tour," Henin told a small group of reporters at the WTA German Open in Berlin. "I'm growing up and I need different things.

"Even physically I don't recover as well as I did when I was 20. That's normal.

"Now I've been playing tennis for 20 years and it's been my whole life but as a woman, as you get older, you need to think about the future.

"I'd love to go back to study. It would be a good challenge and I've been thinking about it a lot recently.

"If I can think about that now it's easier to make the sacrifices because I know there are other things coming. It's important to plan and say, 'That's what I want.' It might not happen because things can change but that's the plan."

Henin, who separated from her husband at the start of last year, said she would like to wait a while after retirement before starting a family but added she could not predict when she would end her career.

"I'd love to take time for myself -- one, two three years," she said. "I want to travel just for myself, without all this pressure, to go skiing -- all the things I can't do now.

"I don't really know when (I'll retire). Maybe in two, three, four years but it's impossible to say.

"I hope I can remain healthy and motivated. I'm not going to play all that much. Already last year I didn't play that much and I want to stay focused on the main events. We'll see. Maybe in two, three, four or five years (I'll retire). We'll see."

Henin was knocked out of the Australian Open quarter-finals and has had a couple of bad results since but Berlin marks her return to clay, her favorite surface, and she will go into Roland Garros as favorite for a fourth successive French Open.

(Editing by Clare Lovell)

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