I should never have played Australian Open final-Henin
Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:55 PM GMT
By Barry Wood
DUBAI, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Justine Henin-Hardenne believes she should never have attempted to start the Australian Open final against Amelie Mauresmo because she was too ill.
"Now I can think about what happened in Melbourne I have the feeling I should never have walked on the court because it could have been dangerous for me," the Belgian told reporters.
"It's not good to play with your health because you just have one life and you have many tennis tournaments."
The Belgian's decision to stop playing when 6-1 2-0 down in last month's final attracted widespread criticism.
In Dubai to play for the first time since that Melbourne walkout, Henin-Hardenne said on Monday she had been racked with pain during the night before the match. Medication for a shoulder injury had made her feel "very, very bad".
"I'm upset with myself that I didn't call anyone that night before the match. My stomach was in so much pain and I have regrets I should have made the call (to a doctor).
"I cannot stop people thinking something about me, but I know the way I am and I'm totally fine with the fact that I left the court.
"Some people understand and some don't. That's life. You can't make everyone happy and can't make everyone like you."
Fourth seed Henin-Hardenne, France's Mauresmo, Maria Sharapova of Russia and American Lindsay Davenport have been given byes into the second round of the Dubai tournament, and Henin-Hardenne says she plans to draw on the positives from her Australian Open experience.
"I didn't play for four months and I came back and won in Sydney and beat Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova and was again in a Grand Slam final. That's what I have to keep.
"So it's not that I had the opportunity to win another Grand Slam and didn't, because I'm sure I'll have other chances.
"I started to hit the ball 10 days after the final, but I just started to serve two days ago," said Henin-Hardenne.
"I don't know exactly what to expect this week. Now my shoulder is getting better but I just want to go step by step and play my first round and see what's going to happen."