Justine, Jelena speak about rankings; and Williams sisters
Henin-Hardenne: It's hard to compare
ZURICH, Switzerland -- Justin Henin-Hardenne knows she still has to work on her game even though she's No. 1, and she can't worry about the Williams sisters.
Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters have given women's tennis a distinctly Belgian flavor with Serena and Venus Williams sidelined.
"It's hard to say where we would be if they were still playing,'' Henin-Hardenne said. "I hope they come back really soon.''
"It's hard to compare, and that's my last problem right now,'' she added. "All I can say is that they are great champions and have won so many titles. And I still have to improve my game.''
Since Serena beat Venus in the Wimbledon final in their last appearances on tour, Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters have won seven titles and faced each other in the final of three, including the U.S. Open.
On Monday, Henin-Hardenne replaced Clijsters at the top of women's tennis to become the 13th No. 1 in the 28-year history of the WTA Tour rankings.
Her rise came a day after she won the Swisscom Challenge. She has a tour-leading eight titles this year, including the French Open and U.S. Open.
Clijsters, who lost in the Swisscom semifinals, had been No. 1 for 10 weeks. She will regain the No. 1 next Monday because Henin-Hardenne was too fatigued to defend her title at this week's Generali Open in Austria.
Serena Williams had knee surgery Aug. 1 and is out for the rest of the year. Venus, hindered by an abdominal strain since April, plans to return in Philadelphia next week.
Before withdrawing from the U.S. Open, Serena Williams had won five of the previous six Grand Slam titles, beating Venus each time.
Henin-Hardenne ended Serena's 21-match unbeaten streak at Amelia Island in April, then beat her again en route to the French Open title.
Clijsters ended Serena's 57-week reign as No. 1 in August, becoming the first player to take the top ranking without having won a Grand Slam title.
Combined, the Belgians have won 15 tournaments and reached 23 finals this year.
"I think Kim and Justine adjusted their level this year and have shown they can beat the Williams sisters,'' Jelena Dokic said after losing to Henin-Hardenne in the Swisscom Challenge final. "They also play a lot of tournaments.''
Dokic says it's important for the Williams sisters to come back so players have a true sense of where they stand.
"We don't know what kind of form they are in or how they will play when they come back,'' she said. "But I think if the Williams sisters do get back to one and two it will take a while.''
Henin-Hardenne this season has won more singles titles and prize money ($3,277,264) than any other player, male or female.
"I think she really deserves to be No. 1,'' Dokic said. "She has played very consistent. Kim played consistent also. But Justine won two Grand Slams this year so maybe she deserves it more than Kim.''