Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels
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Justine Henin, ambassador for Belgian tennis and Wallonia
4-time winner at Romand Garros, Justine Henin, born in Liège on 1 June 1982, was a superb ambassador for Wallonia on the international scene.
For Wallonia, there was a "before" and an "after" Justine Henin. Now a mother and a young retiree, our ex-world number 1 "Juju" is still present at an international level thanks to the "Justine Henin Academy".
Character and work-ethic
Though Justine was born in Liège, she grew up in Han-sur-Lesse, in the municipality of Rochefort. It was in fact here that she began to play tennis aged 5! Her passion became a international career at the highest level. The young sportswoman continued her training in various Sports centres in Wallonia such as: Tennis Club de Rochefort, Tennis Club de Ciney and Tennis Club de Géronsart.
Aged 14, she met her trainer Carlos Rodriguez, an encounter which would prove decisive for the rest of her career. Their collaboration lasted nearly 15 years (from 1996 to 2008, then again from 2009 to 2011). Her career was launched. Her work-ethic, her rigour and her desire gave her the edge she needed to reach the top of her sport.
In 1996, Justine won the Under-14 World Championships and the Orange Bowl. Followed by her first victory at Roland Garros, in the junior competition. She entered the WTA rankings as world number 226. Then, as the years and competitions went by, Justine climbed to the top of the WTA rankings and became world number 1. Thanks to hard work and perseverance, she remained in that position for several years. Her gold medal at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens was the cherry on top of the cake and rounded off an exemplary career.
A very active young retiree
On 14 May 2008, tired, she announced her retirement. She returned to the sport 16 months later but finally retired definitively in 2011. Justine is continuing her career outside of professional tennis in Limelette by dedicating her time to her Club Justine N1 and her tennis academy, where she helps youngsters benfit from her experience and sporting talent.
The tenniswoman and new mother, who now lives in Uccle, is also invested in her "Justine for Kids" association, which helps sick children.