Thursday, June 08, 2006

Oh, Justine!

Justine Henin-Hardenne may be a big cheater, but she's got plenty of moxie. She was the first womens player to attack the Williams sisters at the height of their powers and show no fear of them. As she's gotten older, she's gotten better. Her footwork has improved and she knows how to counter-punch now, too.

With her impressive win over Kim Clijsters today, JHH is poised to win her third French. She already has wins at the Australian and the U.S. Open, as well as an Olympic gold medal.

So how good is she? You could argue that she has a shot to be a top 15 all-time player. On the women's side, the list is:

1) Graf
2) Navratilova
3) Court
4) King
5) Evert

After that, slots are pretty much up for grabs, with players such as Althea Gibson making as much of a claim as Gaby Sabi. You might even have pre-stabbing Monica Seles and a Williams. But how far down would you have to go to put Henin-Hardenne on the list? Even today, I'd say not very far. And if she wins a couple more majors--or a Wimbledon--you might even be able to argue her for the 7-8-9 slots.

Update: For those of you who don't remember her 2003 French Open semi against Serena Williams, here's the Wiki account of JHH's underhanded antics:
Henin-Hardenne won the first set with 6-2 but lost the second 4-6. In the deciding third set, Justine showed all her talent and fighting spirit to prevail 7-5. However, there was some controversy in the third set with Serena leading 4-2 at 15-love. Williams started to hit a first serve, but Justine put up her hand to indicate that she wasn't ready. Williams netted the serve. The umpire did not see Justine's gesture and when he asked her about it she did not respond. The umpire ordered a second serve, and a visibly upset Williams lost the game and later the lead and the match. After the match the replay indicated that Serena was correct, Justine did put her hand as Williams was serving. This win ended Serena's 33-match winning streak in Grand Slam events.


Bill Walsh said...

HH cheats? Howzat?

And I'm glad you put Graf at the top. She doesn't get enough propaz. That reserved German personality. And, hey, I've been to a somewhat-lame amusement park in her hometown of Brühl.

The real wildcard is Seleš. Where does she rank? Obviously Stabby von Jackass ruined her serious bid for the top five, but I think she's still arguably top ten, based on her limited, but spectacular successes beforehand.

Anonymous said...

Getting under the skin of the Williams sisters is child's play...After Tiger, very few young American individual American sports stars have the killer instinct and discipline to fight through cheap bullshit tactics from people they should overpower.

Tyson said...

Women's tennis? What are you going to write about next, tiddlywinks?

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