Elbow injury forces Justine Henin to announce retirement (again)

For the second time in three years, Justine Henin is retiring from tennis. After a brief comeback to the sport, the seven-time Grand Slam champion announced that an elbow injury will force her to leave the game for good.

She made the announcement on her Facebook page. Some excerpts:

I have unfortunately not good news. I spent the last days undergoing various medical tests and they have confirmed that my elbow has been damaged by my adventure in Australia.

After my crash at Wimbledon in June, I knew it would be difficult to come back. But I had decided to keep playing and to give everything to overcome the injury. In these recent months I have rarely been spared from the pain, those last months were very hard. Time has passed, and the doubts have grown, and only return to the courts would give me answers. Not the answer I was hoping for... unfortunately. I suffered a lot the last week and every day gave me more and more pain, but I believed that my will would take the upper hand. Today, the examinations are clearly and and the doctors formally, my elbow is too fragile and hurt so that my passion and my profession at high level cannot continue to exist.

I'm in shock, of course, even whith the work of these past seven months I had to understand that there might be a reason for all this. After having well considered and following the advice of doctors, it is now clear and I accept that my career here ... ... finally ends. Even though it's hard, very hard, while I came back with a tremendous fighting spirit. I'm sorry ... I had hoped for a different return and dreamed of a different ending.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion originally retired in the spring of 2008 as the No. 1 player in the world. She had been struggling that season, but the announcement, which came when the Belgian was 25 years old, was a stunner nonetheless. Henin walked away just before the French Open, where she was as three-time defending champion.

She returned at the beginning of 2010 and in her first two tournaments, there was the sense that her comeback would be every bit as triumphant as Kim Clijsters', her rival and countrywoman who won the U.S. Open after returning to the game. Henin made the finals of Brisbane and the Australian Open in her first two events and was heavily favored to win the French Open last May. She lost to Sam Stosur in the fourth-round and was then ousted by Clijsters at Wimbledon. Her low seedings (the result of not playing the year before) produced matchups she wouldn't have normally seen until the later rounds.

During that Wimbledon match, Henin suffered an eblow injury that forced her out for the rest of 2010. She didn't return until last week in Melbourne, where she lost in the third round to Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-4, 7-6 (8).

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