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A champion's plight: Henin feels old at 25




PARIS (AP) - Justine Henin will celebrate her 25th birthday during this year's French Open, and the three-time champion is already concerned that she is getting old.

"It's very young in my life, but when you see these young players going at 15, 16 years old that push us a lot, it's not easy," said Henin, who won the French Open last year and reached the final at the other three majors. "My body doesn't recover as well as it did five years ago."
The top-ranked Belgian will begin her quest for a fourth title at Roland Garros on Sunday when she faces Elena Vesnina of Russia in the first round.

"A Grand Slam is hard (to win), and especially on clay," Henin said. "Physically and mentally you have to be really strong."

Serena and Venus Williams also will be in action on the first day of the French Open, while Marat Safin, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Fernando Gonzalez play matches in the men's draw.

The French Open will be Henin's first Grand Slam tournament of the year. She pulled out of the Australian Open for personal reasons, and soon after announced she was separating from her husband of five years, Pierre-Yves Hardenne.

"It's been hard for me not to play in Australia, but many other things in my life were much more important at the time," Henin said. "But now I just feel ready to be in this kind of situation again."

With another French Open victory this year, Henin would become the first woman to win three consecutive titles at Roland Garros since Monica Seles in 1990-92.

"Everyone knows it's my favorite tournament," said Henin, who is 7-1 on clay this season. "I feel good at the moment and I have great pleasure playing here."

The one thing that could make her stay in Paris unpleasant is the weather. Henin likes it dry, but torrential rain soaked the city on Friday and Saturday was mostly overcast.

"I had to fight against the weather conditions (at the last two tournaments), so it was very difficult," Henin said. "I know the weather is not going to be perfect in the coming days, but it's going to be better anyway."
 

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Good for Justine. I totally understand what she's talking about feeling old, but when I first saw this, I thought "she looks older than she is". I know that's not a nice thing to say, but maybe she could get a makeover at some point. I respect her game and who she is. If that's not her, then that's cool, but sometimes making a change on the outside helps with the confidence.
 

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Myskina said the same thing. 25 year olds feel the wear and tear on their bodies.
 

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It is not even her feeling her age.. It's us feeling their age too.. We had an extremely bright and giftful generation in them, those who are 24-27 now..
Williams sisters, Hingis, Kournikova, Dementieva, Myskina, Henin, Clijsters. All very bright presonalities , great champions and ambassadors of the sport. Hopefully, some of them have some years in them still, but the countdown for this generation has clearly started.. And there is no substitution. Maria, Sveta and two Serbian girls simply won't feel the void..
 

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well it wont be long before her pecs start drooping! um sorry i meant breast!
 

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she always does and comes back with a win :p lol thats typical juju.
 

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All the players talk about their physical condition; it's not a complaint at all. Even if they don't voice it, it becomes quite evident when they are injured for months at a time, and wrapped up from head to toe.
Ju was also such a late bloomer (relatively speaking) in her success, and it seems as if it's almost time to decline; already!lol. It is alot of work on tour because it is so long and so physical.
 

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its a joke wow lighten up its a forum not a funeral! i wish more people would be light hearted i take the piss out of my favourite players too! tennis is a game not life or death!
 

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Most of the grand slam winners from the last year or two have been past 24: Momo, Justine, venus, Rena.
Only Kim and Maria are younger, so Justine is not finished yet! Of course, I understand how all the travelling and tournaments mustwear you out. The WTA has extended the off season, hopefully they'll extend it even more.
 
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