Mauresmo won her first Grand Slam title Saturday, defeating
Justine Henin-Hardenne before the Belgian retired in the
second set of the Australian Open final because of
stomach pain. The out Mauresmo won the first set
6-1 and was leading 2-0 in the second when
Henin-Hardenne walked to the net and told the chair
umpire she could not continue.
It ended a frustrating seven-year wait for
Mauresmo, who lost the final here to Martina Hingis in
1999 and had not reached another Grand Slam
championship match since. Mauresmo had the second-longest
wait for her first major title in the Open era, taking
32 Grand Slam tournaments to win a final. Jana Novotna
won Wimbledon in 1998 in her 45th major.
"It's been such a long time, and yet I still
don't know what to say," Mauresmo said. "All the
people that still believed in me--after seven
years it's a long time. Not only myself, but people who're
working with me, believed me and pushed me, even when I was
down. Maybe we found the way, maybe we'll try to keep going."
Henin-Hardenne held for the only time in the
sixth game, when Mauresmo drilled a forehand just wide
down the line. She surrendered the first set in 33
minutes on consecutive forehand errors. She was only getting
29% of her first serves in. Mauresmo broke serve and
then held again to lead 2-0 in the second
before Henin-Hardenne called for the trainer.
Henin-Hardenne complained of stomach pain and
played only two more points before quitting the match.
"I was feeling so sick, and I couldn't stay longer on
the court," Henin-Hardenne said. "I'm feeling very
disappointed to end the tournament this way. I'm sorry I
couldn't find a little bit more. I want to say
congratulations to Amelie, she has waited so long
to get her first Grand Slam title."
It was the second consecutive match and third in
the tournament that an opponent has retired with
illness or injury against Mauresmo. Michaella Krajicek
retired with heat stress in the third round, and
second-seeded Kim Clijsters retired after turning her
ankle early in the third set of their semifinal on Thursday.
Henin-Hardenne, who has four Grand Slam singles
titles and was on a 13-match winning streak at
Melbourne Park, burst into tears when she reached a
courtside chair after quitting the match.
Mauresmo spoke to her at the net, then walked
back on court and waved both arms to the crowd,
choking back tears of emotion. "I was very in control,
I didn't let the emotions end this time," said Mauresmo.
"I thought this could be my day, this could be the moment
Storms outside produced the only real thunder of
the match. The roof was closed on Rod Laver Arena,
trapping a number of birds inside, and they chirped
loudly throughout the match.
Henin-Hardenne had been a slow starter in the
last two rounds, dropping the first set against both
Lindsay Davenport in the quarterfinals and Maria
Sharapova in the semis before rallying. It looked to be the
same against Mauresmo as the Belgian dropped 19 of the
first 24 points, committing a rash of mistakes.
Mauresmo broke for the second time, setting up
break point with a let court that dribbled over the
net, and Henin-Hardenne couldn't get back even though
she was standing right there. Shouts of "Come on,
Justine!" erupted from the crowd, but Mauresmo held to make
it 5-0, fending off the only break point that
she faced. Henin-Hardenne finally held in the next
game to pull to 5-1, sparking a loud ovation and
suggestions that she might be pulling herself together.
But as the match wore on, Mauresmo seemed to
sense that her opponent was off her game or injured.
She was increasingly content just to keep the ball in
play until Henin-Hardenne made a mistake.
There were only six combined winners in the
eight games and 31 unforced errors, 20 by
Henin-Hardenne. Her shoulders repeatedly slumped after
missing shots that she normally would have been smacking for
winners. Mauresmo sat and hung her head, seemingly
stunned and overwhelmed. She finally got up and raised
her arms in triumph as French flags fluttered in the
stands, still looking less than triumphant as Henin-Hardenne
Be sure to follow Advocate on your favorite social platform
DON'T MISS THE OUT100 SPECIAL 3 DAY MARATHON STARTING NOVEMBER 24TH!
Journey through the year’s influential Out100 – the most iconic and long-standing celebration of LGBTQ+ icons and allies – in a 1-hour television special spotlighting the LGBTQ+ people shaping the world today.