She won four women's finals at Roland-Garros, four Suzanne-Lenglen cups (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007). She regaled the Parisian public with her magnificent one-handed losses, especially against Mary Pierce and Serena Williams. From Monday, May 27 to Sunday, June 9, 2019, Justine Hénin will be installed in the chair of consultant for France Televisions to comment on the 118th edition of Roland-Garros. For Point, the former world number one (117 weeks in the first row, more than two years!) has agreed to engage in the game of predictions. Interview.
Point: What to expect from the female board?
Justine Hénin: It's so open this year that it's very hard to say. There is indeed no player who really stands out from others on the dirt track. Everyone says "I can do it" and can have opportunities this year. There will be a lot of competition.
Simona Halep, victorious last year in Paris, is she favorite?
After coming back from a back injury, Simona had a good start to the season. Then she was beaten in the final in Madrid by Kiki Bertens. I am curious to see how she will defend her title on clay, including whether she will handle this pressure well. I expect a lot from her, but she has to be consistent.
Would it be the turn of Naomi Osaka, current world number one?
She had physical troubles, small injuries to manage. Winning the US Open last year against Serena Williams was really a surprise. In addition, she confirmed by winning the last Australian Open. But since then it has been difficult to assume the status of a world number. And you have to see how it evolves on the physical plane.
And Serena Williams, today number 10 worldwide?
You always have to expect everything with this girl. She is unique and knows how to take a big shot when it is necessary. But with all the respect and admiration I have for Serena, it's still physically hard. I think if she wants to break the record of grand slam tournaments (she has 23 titles, against 24 titles for Margaret Court, Ed), she has more chances to do it at Wimbledon.
Sloane Stephens, finalist last year, or the Czechs Kvitova and Plíšková can they surprise?
The American showed a lot last year. I appreciate its form of nonchalance and aggressiveness at times. She has a lot of style. She played well in Madrid, where she lost in the semi-final against Kiki Bertens. In Rome, it did not go so well for her (eliminated in 16th,). She remains a player well placed for this tournament, even if it does not achieve the best start of the year of his career.
As for the Czech Petra Kvitova, she is the only player to have won two tournaments this year (Sydney and Stuttgart, Ed). Her compatriot Karolína Plíšková (victorious at the end of 2018 in Brisbane then in Rome recently, Ed) has had ups and downs. I do not see her as a favorite.
Do the French women finally have a chance?
For girls and boys, it's not great at the moment. It's going to be complicated for the French women. At Roland Garros, there is a lot of waiting and the pressure is very strong. These are very important parameters to take into account.
Even for Caroline Garcia?
Yes. She had an amazing end of 2017. Then last year, it was difficult for her to manage her new status (she lost in Paris in the round of 16 against the German Angelique Kerber, Ed). This year, his results are below his potential. Will it click in Paris? Not sure. I'm a big fan of Caroline Garcia, but I'm hungry!
For Kristina Mladenovic, it's complicated in a final phase. There is also Alize Cornet who plays with great passion and has played well in Rome, then was forced to abandon (wounded adductor, she then forfeited Strasbourg to be present in Paris).
What is missing to make the women's circuit even more attractive, especially Roland-Garros?
What we would like is a little more consistency on the part of the players. This would identify the best and stage beautiful rivalries. On France Télévisions, we hope to show beautiful feminine duels at Roland-Garros, with the will, of course, to see the French shine.
How would you describe women's tennis today?
The game continues to be very physical and faster. At Roland Garros, there are less long exchanges than before. Everyone is trying to do something with every ball. We are more in a development of power, less in construction. The technical aspect is a little less worked.
Take the plunge: who will win this Roland-Garros?
In men, I can see Nadal. In women, it's hard to bet on a player, there is no big favorite, it's very open. If you ask me to choose three players, then I tell you Kvitova, Bertens and Halep. I hope all the good players will be there. The one who stands out from the game will be the one with the strongest mind.