Classic Rivalries – Justine Henin vs. Serena Williams

AP/Mark Baker, file

Classic Rivalries – Justine Henin vs. Serena Williams

Serena Williams has played professional tennis for so long, that one can forget how many great players she has faced throughout the years.

For example, between 2001 and 2010 she faced off 14 times against seven-time Grand Slam winner Justine Henin. Williams ended up ahead in the rivalry winning eight times vs. Henin’s six before the rivalry was cut short with Henin’s second and final retirement in January of 2011. Regardless, even though she had a short career, Henin finished number one in 2003, 2006, and 2007.

As one would expect, the rivalry between these two found itself playing out in the biggest stages in tennis. Half of their meetings would happen at the Grand Slams. At the Grand Slams Henin would finish with a 4-3 edge.

From 2001 to 2003, they met three times at Grand Slams with Williams taking victories at the 2001 US Open round of 16 and at the 2003 Wimbledon semifinals, while Henin would claim a semifinal win at the 2003 French Open.

Coincidentally, they would not meet again until 2007. That year, Henin would meet Serena at three Grand Slam quarterfinals and beat her in all three encounters. 2007 would be the last time Henin would beat Williams. Their last two encounters were at the Miami Open quarters in 2008 and the 2010 Australian Open final. Williams would go on to win both those matches.

What was special about this rivalry were the differences in playing styles from both players. Henin stood at only 5’ 6’’ had an all-around game that was hard to read. She had a powerful one-handed backhand and could go from defense to offense on a dime. She also had incredible hands and used drop shots to great effect. She would also clock serves at 120 mph despite her small frame. Williams on the other hand, and as we all know, is a very aggressive player. When these two met, it made for very entertaining tennis.

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