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Chris Chase

Henin is sorry for the Serena hand incident ... but not really

Chris Chase
Busted Racquet

In a post-retirement interview with Belgian TV, Justine Henin reflected on her infamous 2003 confrontation with Serena Williams in the semifinals of the French Open. The seven-time Grand Slam champion said "it is not the best memory," but stopped way short of apologizing for her controversial gesture which led to a Serena collapse.

If your memory needs some jogging, read this post from last May for a refresher on the incident, which actually started on the point before Henin raised her hand. Or watch the clip below. Or do both.

Here's what I wrote about it last year (after Serena defended herself to Jelena Jankovic by telling her "I'm not Justine" following a similar on-court incident):

It wasn't merely bad sportsmanship, it was bad gamesmanship, too. Henin didn't like the previous call, so she let Serena know it by raising her hand and interrupting her serve. Serena's move wasn't very sportsmanlike either, but it didn't warrant such a juvenile, petty and cheap move.

Henin seems to understand that it was wrong but doesn't express much regret about it. Here's a translation of the interview, as provided by Matt Cronin of Tennis.com:

"I think she saw [the hand raising] and she was disturbed by that. There is a lot of tension, actions are a bit by instinct. So it's true that it is not the best memory. At the same time what happened was magic. I don't know if that changed the match. Maybe it was a way to give me respect, because you know that Williams have an attitude, sometimes difficult. They play with a lot of intimidation. You need to know that when you play against a Williams and they walk on court."

That's not even a non-apology apology. That's merely acknowledging Serena was upset. Henin doesn't know whether it changed the match? She was down 2-4, 0-30 in the deciding set when it happened. If that didn't change the match, what did? And what's magical about cattily raising your hand because you didn't like the call before? By that definition, Serena blowing up at that chair umpire at the U.S. Open was enchanting.

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