BERLIN 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
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)