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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
posted on Sun, Jun. 08, 2003
Belgium Salutes the 'Queen of Paris'
PAUL AMES
Associated Press


BRUSSELS, Belgium - The revelry surrounding Justine Henin-Hardenne moved from center court in Paris to the historic Grand Place at home.

"It's hard to find words to tell you how much this means to me," Henin-Hardenne told a cheering crowd Sunday from the balcony of the capital's 15th-century city hall.

Henin-Hardenne gave Belgium its first Grand Slam champion on Saturday, beating Kim Clijsters 6-0, 6-4 in an all-Belgian final.

She is the first sports star to receive such a city hall welcome since the Belgian soccer team - including Clijsters' father, Leo - returned from the semifinals of the 1986 World Cup.

"Yesterday you saw two girls fighting for their country," Henin-Hardenne told the thousands packing Grand Place. "I promise you I won't change. I'll always try to represent Belgium as best I can around the world."

Her words repeatedly were interrupted by cheers and chants of "Juju, Juju." The crowd's loudest roar came when Pierre-Yves Hardenne, the player's husband of six months, grabbed her for a lingering kiss.

"You're fantastic," she told the crowd. "Thanks from the depths of my heart."

Clijsters and Henin-Hardenne are hugely popular in this country of 10 million where sports successes are rare. Several newspapers rushed out special Sunday editions to celebrate the moment.

"Justine Queen of Paris," ran a headline in the daily La Derniere Heure.

The paper covered its front and back pages with a giant picture of King Albert II flanked by Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters against a backdrop of the country's black-yellow-and-red flag.

Friends since tennis brought them together as children, French-speaking Henin-Hardenne and Dutch-speaking Clijsters have become symbols of unity in a country where linguistic divisions run deep.

"And the winner is? Belgium!" ran a headline in Het Laatste Nieuws, a Dutch-language daily.

"A national party," proclaimed the Francophone paper, Le Soir.

Clijsters enjoyed widespread praise for her gracious words and warm embrace for Henin-Hardenne after the match.

Clijsters did not return to Belgium, remaining at Roland Garros to celebrate her 20th birthday by winning the women's doubles final with Japan's Ai Sugiyama.

King Albert led a Belgian delegation in Paris on Saturday that included most of the royal family with almost all government ministers and opposition leaders.

Foreign Minister Louis Michel said Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters had done more for Belgium's image than a dozen ambassadors.

"These two young women have achieved so much through their example, words just cannot express it," Michel told Le Soir.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Wow! Thanks for the added info & pic, Josh & irma! :)

I went back & highlighted the nicest part about Kim so none of her fans will miss it. (that is, if they enter this thread, as irma has done!) :kiss: to Kimmy fans.


When I first glanced at the pic I thought Justine had on a t-shirt with the Canadian flag on it! I thought I saw the maple leaf. :)
 

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kim and ai won the doubles so her fans are in a good mood;)

:kiss: back
 

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Thanks Janie!:) What a special moment for Justine!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I am still trying to get my brain around such a huge outpouring for a tennis player! That would never happen here in the States. I wish the Williams sisters, Monica, in fact EVERYONE who wins a Slam, could experience what Justine experienced today, in their homeland.
 

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when ivanisevic won wimbledon they had a party for days in croatia :eek:
 

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her husband is pretty damn hot =)
 

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Sorry, but I find this a bit over the top. :eek: And those politicians who want to take a bit of the spotlight crack me up.
 

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Wonderful Justine Wonderful! :bounce: :bounce:
Thanks for the article & pics!! :bounce: :wavey:
 

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OMG I can iagine what Belgium would be like - if someone from ireland won a grand slam the country would go insane
 

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I'm just wondering Belgians. If Kim does get to number 1 but fail to win a grand slam this year, would she still get the sportswoman of the year instead of Justine?
 

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And I was there!! at least when the final was on the big screen. Today it was just too crowdy to get on the market square so I left again.
It really was something special, all those people shooting and singing :bounce: bounce:
 

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:D:worship:
 
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