Classic Rivalries – Clijsters vs Henin

AP/Andrew Brownbill, file

Classic Rivalries – Clijsters vs Henin

In the 2000s, Belgium produced two of the best tennis players of all time: Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters. Between the two they would go on to win 11 Grand Slam titles between 2004 and 2011. This is an astonishing feat considering the fact that Venus and Serena Williams were their contemporaries. Naturally, because of their sheer talent and success, they would play each other a total of 25 times at the most prestigious tournaments.

At Grand Slams they would meet eight times, with Henin leading the head-to-head 5-3. Unfortunately for Clijsters, Henin dominated in Grand Slam finals, posting a 3-0 record against her countrywoman. Also of interest is the fact that both these players retired and came back. Clijsters was more successful in her comeback, winning back-to-back US Open’s (2009 and 2010) and an Australian Open (2011) let’s take a look at three of their greatest encounters!

2003 French Open Final

2003 would be a fantastic year for both Clijsters and Henin. They would finish two and one in the world respectively and contest two Grand Slam finals. However, for the 2003 French Open, Kim Clijsters was seeded two, while Henin was number 4. The last time they had met the French Open was during the tournament’s semifinals, where they thrilled fans with a three-set epic. On that occasion, it would be Clijsters who would come out on top. It was not to be this time, as Henin would get her revenge and claim her first Grand Slam title, and first of four French Open titles. Final score: 6-0, 6-4.

2003 US Open Final

Clijsters and Henin would come in as the top two seeds at the 2003 US Open and would both have a relatively easy time getting to the final. Clijsters did not lose a set on road to the final, While the only roadblock for Henin was a hard three-set semifinal against Jennifer Capriati. Clijsters was the favorite in this final, not only because she was the number one seed, but because on hard courts she had an edge on Henin. However, it was not to be. After a hard-fought first set, Henin cruised to victory. Final score: 7-5, 6-1

2010 Wimbledon Round of 16

This final meeting between the two Belgian greats was interesting in that both Henin and Clijsters had come back from a two-year retirement around this time. During this second act, Clijsters had dominated Henin, beating her for the title at the 2010 Brisbane International and the 2010 Miami Open semifinals. This would be their last meeting, and bittersweet for Clijsters to get her final revenge on her old foe on a Grand Slam stage. This would be a three-set affair, with Clijsters ultimately coming out on top. Final score: 2-6, 6-2, 6-3

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