Justine's Entire Interview
Q. What about the crowd? What did you think about the crowd?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I think, you know, the crowd give me all the support I needed to win the match. It was unbelievable playing in this atmosphere. So I was so happy that they were totally behind me. And, you know, when you have to fight like this at 5-all in the third set, it's so much important that they behind you.
Q. Was it a fair crowd?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Sorry?
Q. Was it a fair crowd? Don't you think that it was a little bit too much against Serena?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Yeah, sometimes it could be a little bit too much. It's true that when she was missing first serves, yeah, they were, you know...
But, you know, it's tennis. It's like this. I think they wanted so much that I won this match, so I understand them. And I also say "thank you" to them, but it's true that sometimes it was a little bit too much.
Q. Especially in the second set when she was up, serving for the match, what do you think turned the match around for you?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: In the third? You said in the second set. In the third set? In the third set she was up 4-2. You know, I stayed very calm, very cool on the court. You know, I had nothing to lose at this point and I said, "Just play point after point."
And I started playing a little bit down the line. It was helping me because she was going always cross-court. So I think it helped a little bit.
And, you know, I just said, "Be focus on every point." That's what I did, and it worked.
Q. Are you looking forward to the match with Clijsters?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Oh, it's still very early.
Q. What do you expect?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I'm not thinking yet about this match. I just have to say it's unbelievable for Belgian country. It's just an amazing situation. I'll try to be ready, give my best, give 100 percent, like I did today. And I will fight on every point for sure, try and winning my first Grand Slam.
Q. What level of tennis do you think the two of you played today? How would you describe it?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: It was a high level, very high level. It's, I think, one of the best matches of the tournament. That's what everybody says.
And when you in the match, sometimes it's hard for you to realize how the level you play. But I knew in the first, I played just unbelievable. I was very aggressive, I wasn't missing at all. Then a great fight in the third set.
So we just saw two players, two fighters, who wanted to win the match. And at the end of the match, it was only mentally that we had to be strong.
Q. You previously beat Serena on clay in South Carolina. Do you think she has a tougher time playing on clay?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I think, you know, she's great champion, great player, and it's very hard to play Serena on every surface. But it's true that for me it's little bit easier to play her on clay court because her power is not the same that on hard court.
So I believe maybe a little bit more in my chances on clay court, for sure.
Q. When the crowd is getting as wild as it was getting, are you thinking to yourself, "I hope they quiet down," or is it really helping you to get going? What exactly are you feeling as a player?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: It was helping. Sometimes I forgot everything and especially at 6-5, I just try to be in myself and just forget everything around me. It was so much important if I wanted to serve well and to be ready for the last game of the match, I hope.
But, you know, it was great atmosphere. There are no words to tell what I felt on the court. It was unbelievable, I think, that when Serena was leading in the third, they never stop to be behind me. They give 100 percents, too. So it's great.
Q. It's been a year since anyone but either of the Williams sisters has been in a Grand Slam final. What does that say to you?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: You know, I just thinking that I'm in the final. That's the most important for me. And I knew it was a difficult draw for me playing Serena in the semifinal because she's -- you know, she's amazing in the Grand Slams. She played a great match today.
So, I mean, she did everything she could for winning the match, and it was very hard. She could win the match. I mean, I won, but she could, too. It's very hard. It's true that she won the last four Grand Slams, so she's an amazing player and she did great match today.
Q. A tremendous victory. I don't mean to diminish it in any way, but Oracene, Serena's mom, was talking about the crowd. She said the crowd always roots for the underdog. But also she said that there was a lack of class in terms of the booing, the cheering of errors, and that there was a total ignorance of the etiquette of the game. Could you comment on that?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I didn't understand everything.
Q. I'll repeat.
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Okay. Yeah, I think, yeah, like I said, it was sometimes a little bit too much. But maybe if I have to play her in the States, it's little bit the same kind of situation.
I don't know why exactly, I don't have the answer to this, to this question. I mean, you have to ask to the crowd why they did this.
But, you know, I just don't want to say any comment about this.
Q. Did Serena say anything to you at the end?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: No, nothing.
Q. When you look at your final against Kim, people always say you have more possibilities to win the match because you are a more complete player. Other people say she's mentally stronger. What's your comment about that, that you're actually technically better, but mentally that Kim's the No. 1?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Yeah, I mean, if you think, that's your point of view. Yeah, but I'm feeling much -- you know, I just try to be focus on myself. I'm feeling much more strong than I was last year - physically and mentally. I'm feeling confident.
But Kim is great player. It's gonna be difficult for winning this match on Saturday. So it's very hard to say. We can talk a lot about that. You'll have the answer Saturday.
But, you know, we just have to think that I'm in the final. That's what the most important for me.
Q. Is it 50/50, do you think?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I never said this kind of things, because I think, you know, Kim is No. 2 in the world. She's probably gonna be the favorite on Saturday.
Q. Returning to the crowd, when people shout out things from the crowd, do you hear what they're saying? If you do hear some of the things, does that affect you at all?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Sometimes it's hard when you have to, yeah, to serve, especially on your second serve, and when you could hear some people. They were screaming.
But, I mean, when you are at this level, you have to deal with that and you have to deal with the situation and just have to be focus on what you have to do. That's what I did.
Q. I think Kim and you have been great for Belgian tennis already. This is your first final together. What does that do for Belgian tennis? And, for women's tennis, beating -- getting to the finals and beating Serena, what impact do you think it will have on the way they see the matches against the Williams sisters?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: A great impact, for sure. Belgian people have to be crazy, and that's normal. To have two players in the final, that's unbelievable for the country.
For sure now it's the next step, I mean, because two Belgian players in the final, we never saw it. So it's gonna be a very special day on Saturday for everybody in Belgium and for us, too.
So I think it's gonna be great. That's it.
Q. For the women's competition, your victories?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I think it's good that you have different final. It's good to see different players. I think it's good for women's tennis.
Q. Can you talk about for your own confidence and your own career, what does this win mean, if you could put in perspective, for your career, this particular win?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: It's probably one of the most beautiful wins for my career, for sure, because I had to fight a lot today, I had to win -- to play great match for winning this match. I think it's just amazing how I was feeling on the court.
Especially here at the French Open, you know, I was little bit nervous coming back here after what happened last year. And then I'm in the final, but the tournament is not over. I have to control my emotions now. I have to -- just to enjoy my victory today, but in two days, it's gonna be a final and it's gonna be for sure an important match.
It's not whole life, but it's one more step in my career, for sure.
Q. Just one follow-up to that. Do you think this will carry over, then? Did you get some renewed confidence from this match that will carry over, you think, for the rest of your career or the next few matches?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: It's helping winning this kind of matches, for sure. I start to really believe in myself that one day I could be at the top, really at the top.
And I am playing good right now, you know. It's sometimes very difficult to explain how you doing better like I'm doing in the last six months.
But I just -- I think I could do right decisions and I have good stuff around me, and I'm feeling very good in my private life, so it's helping to be 100 percents on the court.
Q. How do you celebrate a win like this? How much do you let yourself go? How much do you have to just remain focused on what you have lefty?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: It's gonna be normal tonight. I'm gonna go with my husband, my coach, my coach's family, we'll have a nice dinner together, but like we have all days. It's not gonna be different today because I beat Serena. I mean, like I said, the tournament is not over. We will, I hope, celebrate later this week (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: French questions, please.
Q. You said this is one of the most beautiful victories in your career. Is it not the nicest?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Probably the most beautiful. There was also the one against Capriati in Wimbledon, but this is new. This time it's different because I have beaten the strongest player in the world.
To do it in this way, with this ambiance, clearly it's the most beautiful feeling I've had in my career.
Q. What are you most proud of?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: The whole match. At one point, there were times where I didn't play as well. But in the whole level of my game was very good. The first set, in particular, I made no mistakes, and I'm also proud to have beaten Serena at the end of the match. That made it possible for me to fight on.
Because it was necessary, if I wanted to win, I couldn't just wait for errors. So I went to get that victory.
Q. I'd like to know, what was your technical plan before meeting Serena, and could you implement that strategy?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Yes, otherwise, I wouldn't have won. Obviously, I couldn't play, as many girls do against her, just following her pace. I couldn't have won. At first my serves were not good. My long shots were essential. I wasn't using them at times, in particular my forehand against her backhand. That made her lose her balance.
I followed, most of the time, this plan. I could have done better, obviously.
Q. What happened with your two double-faults?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Well, it didn't really upset me. It was at 5-5. But at 6-5, I realized I had to play differently. With the change of side, I tried to ignore what was happening in the crowd. What was essential was to go back on the court and to serve my first shots. This was essential.
I served very well in the last games, and this is how I could win. After 5-4, when we went back to 5-5, I didn't play when -- I was hoping that I wasn't gonna make errors. At 6-5, I could correct my mistake.
Q. The first set was very quick. Did you expect a reaction?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Well, she was not playing that badly, but my reaction was hard for her. Then she started to play very well. I could have seized some other opportunities in the second set. I played very poorly at 4-3, and my serve, and then it was a bit hard mentally.
But in the third set, I never gave up, I carried on, while her level remained the same. She made very few errors. She forced me to run a lot, and it was really a fight - a real fight.
Q. Do you think she didn't play well in the last set?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: No, I don't think you can say that. She played a beautiful match, and so did I. She will say what she feels and I'm happy to be playing in the finals.
Q. The fact that you are going to face Kim, who is a friend, will you have the same desire to win? Will it be like today?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I hope so. But for the last match, it's difficult to know how I'm going to feel on Saturday when I get on the court. It's going to be a special situation. Things are not over. I hope that I can win.
Kim plays very well. But let's keep it in perspective. It's a very important match, but there are also other important things in life. It's very important for me, for Belgian tennis, for my family and the people around me, it's very important. Of course the objective is to win, but it's difficult to know ahead of time what's going to happen.
Q. Will it be a wholly Belgian final, or will it be...
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Well, I feel 100 percent Belgian. Some people see the difference. I think in Flanders, people like me. Having two Belgian players in the finals is fantastic. That's the important thing.
Q. You said that Serena could let other people win. With Kim, do you think you're going to be long-lasting winner like Serena?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Well, my objectives, I fix them with respect to myself rather than Serena or Kim. You have to have the type of philosophy in life, "Take things as they come." I tried to push my own limits backwards. As for Serena, I hope things are going to change. She remains a great champion. Very difficult to defeat.
So it's early to say anything, but the gap is becoming smaller.
Q. You said you remained serene during the match. On the other hand, Serena seemed to be nervous against herself. Did you notice that? Was it an advantage?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I didn't really look at what was happening on the other side of the net. I was concentrating on myself, on my game. I didn't get too nervous.
At times I was upset because I want things to work out best. I really thought of what I had to do.
Q. You were saying on the court that after 4-2 you didn't really believe in the third set?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Well, I realized that I had opportunities, but not so many. I always carried on in the second set, but when she was winning 4-2, I felt that I might lose.
But since I said there was nothing to lose, I could relax, and then I played better tennis from then on.
Q. When you served for the match...
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I was playing very well in the first set, then it was harder in the second set. Then I carried on. I was winning 5-4, it's very difficult in that type of situation. You can make mistakes, but I accepted it and held on. It's important to react as I did when the score was 6-5.
Q. You won the last match against Kim. Can that be in your ?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: Well, that was a different match. We're at Roland Garros, French Open Grand Slam, it's different. I don't know what's going to happen. We'll see what happens. My victory in Berlin is not going to be very important for the outcome on Saturday.
I'm aware of the fact that I have chances to win, but so does Kim. On paper, she's theoretically the favorite. I beat the No. 1 player today. What I'm going to feel on Saturday is difficult to explain.
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: It may be important, but I think that I have enough experience to be relaxed. I have people surrounding me that are going to help me. I'm going to recuperate. I have 48 hours to rest. Today it was a very difficult fight physically and mentally, but I think I have the necessary resources to be there on Saturday, and then I can relax afterwards.
Q. You smile, but you don't seem to be euphoric. What are your feelings behind the facade?
JUSTINE HENIN-HARDENNE: I'm very happy, indeed. But I'm sure you know that in this type of situation you can only be happy. But I know that the game is not over. The tournament is not finished. There's still a game to be played on Saturday.
It's fantastic to defeat Serena in the French Open, but there's many other important things in life. At times, you're living good or bad times, that may be more important. The day when I got married was the nicest day of my life. I cannot compare that to a victory like today's.
So you have to put things in perspective. Tennis is a beautiful sport. It's fantastic when you can win, especially with this type of ambiance, but you must realize that there are things in life that are much more important.