Serena will miss old rival Henin at Wimbledon
LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) - Former world number one Serena Williams said she was sad that her old adversary Justine Henin will be missing from Wimbledon this year.
The American was knocked out by Henin at the quarter-final stage last year having beaten the Belgian on her way to winning the title in 2003.
Their 13 career meetings were often prickly affairs, especially a bad-tempered French Open semi-final won by Henin in 2003. Williams also turned out to be a sore loser when she was beaten by Henin in the U.S. Open quarter-finals last year.
But following Henin’s sudden retirement from the sport last month, Williams said she would miss their rivalry.
“It’s sad that she’s not going to be at Wimbledon this year,” Williams, who features in a new $15-million dollar marketing campaign unveiled by the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in London this week, told Reuters.
“She was great competition and the tournament will miss her. But then again it opens up the draw a bit for someone else to do a little better.”
Williams won consecutive titles in Bangalore, Miami and Charleston earlier this year but struggled during the European claycourt season, losing in the third round at Roland Garros to Slovenia’s Katarina Srebotnik.
Her early exit in Paris at least allowed her some time off and to prepare thoroughly for Wimbledon.
“It was nice to have a bit of time off and I’ve had a lot of time on the grass,” Williams, who had back trouble in Rome this year, said. “I’m feeling great and very positive.
“It’s been a while since I won here but I still think, along with my sister (Venus), I’m the one to beat on grass. Hopefully I can hang in with her.”
Williams is seeded sixth at Wimbledon, one place higher than Venus who will be defending her title.
The Williams sisters were among 30 players featured in the WTA Tour’s “Looking for a Hero” campaign which will be rolled out across 75 countries over the next 18 months.