Justine Henin's absence from the season's opening grand slam in Australia
appears to have increased her hunger to succeed in the French Open.
The Belgian failed to make the trip to Melbourne Park in January as she was
trying to come to terms with the breakdown of her four-year marriage to
After dealing with the emotional upheavals of the break-up, she dumped her
married surname and is now determined to capture her first grand slam trophy as
a single woman.
"I was a little bit nervous coming here in Paris because I wasn't in
Australia, and now I just want to keep going," said Henin, who won her previous
five slams while married to Hardenne.
On Tuesday, she had been expected to face her stiffest test in her charge
towards a hat-trick of Roland Garros crowns but Serena Williams never managed to
rise to the challenge.
Instead, Henin trampled on her American opponent 6-4 6-3 and has now won 31
successive sets in Paris dating back to 2005.
While a misfiring Williams claimed that all Henin had to do to win the match
was to "show up", the Belgian had other ideas.
"Well, that's her opinion," said the 25-year-old, whose last win over
Williams was an acrimonious semi-final showdown here four years ago.
"I thought I did a good job. I did everything I could to control the match.
So I'm very happy with the fact that from the first point until the end, I had
been very focused."
"I knew if I was mentally and emotionally under control today, I was going to
win this match."
The only woman left in the draw who has yet to drop a set, the world number
one is now only two matches away from equalling Monica Seles's 1992 feat of
winning three titles in a row here.
But to Henin, records don't mean a thing.
"I don't want to be in the record books. I like tennis because I want to push
at my limits for myself, for people who are around me, for people who support
me," said Henin, who will next play Serbian fourth seed Jelena Jankovic.
I'm motivated because of the emotions and the feelings of tennis. There is an
emotional bond between the public and the crowd and myself.
"But figures? When I pack up my shoes, figures won't make me happy."
What would make her happy though is to see her name engraved on the Suzannne
Lenglen trophy on Saturday, and without the addition of Hardenne next to it for
the first time.