Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters are Belgian professional tennis players who engaged in a long-standing rivalry which spanned twenty-five meetings over a twelve-year period, with eight of those meetings taking place in a Grand Slam tournament. Their final competitive meeting came at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships in the fourth round, with Clijsters winning in 3 sets, this brought their head to head record to 13–12 in Clijsters' favour. The Belgians have met eight times in Grand Slam tournaments, three of which were finals. Henin leads 5–3 in Grand Slam play including winning all their final match ups.
History of the rivalry
They first met in 1998. 2001 was a historic year for the pair. Their first match was decided in the final set at Indian Wells in the third round which Clijsters won. At the French Open the tournament witnessed Clijsters and Henin facing off in the semifinals, where the winner would create history and become Belgium's first ever singles Grand Slam finalist. Clijsters created history by winning the match in three sets before losing an epic contest to Jennifer Capriati in the final. Just two weeks later though Henin beat Clijsters in three sets to win the Heineken Open. In November the pair teamed up to bring Belgium its first success in the Fed Cup competition.
Clijsters won in straight sets in both Sydney and the Australian Open quarterfinals at the start of 2002. Henin won only her second match in six meetings against Clijsters in the semifinals of Rome. In their final match of 2002 at the WTA Championships, Clijsters lost just three games to Henin.
At the Adidas International in the first of eight matches between the pair in 2003, Clijsters saw off Henin–Hardenne in straight sets to reach the final against Lindsay Davenport, which Clijsters won. The pair's next meeting came in the semifinals of their home event, the Proximus Diamond Games, with Clijsters again winning in straight sets before falling to Venus Williams in the final. Henin–Hardenne hit back to win her first match of the year against Clijsters in Berlin. As Clijsters wasted three match points as Henin won the match in the final set 7–5. Henin then squared the series up for the year as she lost just four games to Clijsters as she won the French Open. Just two weeks later Clijsters stopped the two-game losing streak as Henin retired from the final of the Ordina Open. The pair's next meeting was at the Acura Classic with Henin fighting back from a set down to defeat her compatriot. Henin went on to claim her second Grand Slam title of the year, defeating Clijsters in straight sets at the US Open. In their final match of the year the World Number One was at stake as they faced off in Germany. It was Clijsters who was the reigning World Number One who claimed it as she defeated Henin, coming from a set down to do so.
The Belgians met just once in 2004 and 2005, at the opening Grand Slam Tournament of 2004, the Australian Open. Again it was in the final and again Henin triumphed in the final set. It was a year and a half before they met again, this time in the final of the Rogers Cup, and Clijsters defeated Henin-Hardenne, whilst in the middle of a 22-match winning streak. The rivalry came to an end in 2006 as Clijsters retired in 2007, but not before three more matches were played. 2006 witnessed Henin defeating Clijsters in all three matches. Henin won in straight sets at the French Open and at Wimbledon, but needed three sets to get rid of her rival at Eastbourne. Wimbledon was the last match they played and it left Henin winning the series by 12 matches to 10. Also in 2006 Clijsters and Henin guided their nation to the final of the Fed Cup where they lost. Clijsters and Henin only played in the first round together; all other rounds Kirsten Flipkens played, partnering Clijsters in the semifinals and Henin in the final.
Henin then followed suit and retired in 2008, but in 2009, Clijsters came out of retirement and Henin followed for the start of the 2010 season, reigniting the rivalry. Henin met Clijsters in the final at Brisbane in her first tournament back, which Clijsters finally won in the final set tiebreak. They then met in Miami and shared another match which went to the final set tie-break again. Clijsters then defeated Henin in three sets while at Wimbledon, while Henin injured her elbow during the first set, as Clijsters took the renewed rivalry score to 3–0. The pair were considering putting their fierce rivalry aside to compete together in the doubles of the 2012 Olympic Games. But the rivalry was ended when Henin retired once again, this time on doctors' advice because of the elbow injury sustained against Clijsters at Wimbledon, after playing the 2011 Australian Open, leaving the final head-to-head 13–12 in Clijsters' favour. The pair's final match together was an exhibition in Antwerp in December 2010 with Clijsters winning a match tiebreaker.
|Legend (1998–2009)||Legend (2009–present)|
|Grand Slam tournaments (8)|
|WTA Championships (1)|
|Tier I (5)||Premier Mandatory (1)|
|Tier II (6)||Premier 5 (0)|
|Tier III (2)||Premier (0)|
|Tier IV & V (2)||International (1)|
|Year||Tournament||Surface||Round||Winner||Score||K. C.||J. H.|
|1998||Ramat HaSharon||Hard||Q||Henin||6–1, 7–6(3)||0||1|
|2001||Indian Wells||Hard||R32||Clijsters||1–6, 6–4, 6–3||1||2|
|2001||French Open||Clay||SF||Clijsters||2–6, 7–5, 6–3||2||2|
|2001||'s-Hertogenbosch||Grass||F||Henin||6–4, 3–6, 6–3||2||3|
|2002||Australian Open||Hard||QF||Clijsters||6–2, 6–3||4||3|
|2002||Los Angeles||Carpet||QF||Clijsters||6–2, 6–1||5||4|
|2003||Berlin||Clay||F||Henin||6–4, 4–6, 7–5||7||5|
|2003||French Open||Clay||F||Henin||6–0, 6–4||7||6|
|2003||'s-Hertogenbosch||Grass||F||Clijsters||6–7(4), 3–0 retired||8||6|
|2003||San Diego||Hard||F||Henin||3–6, 6–2, 6–3||8||7|
|2003||US Open||Hard||F||Henin||7–5, 6–1||8||8|
|2003||Filderstadt||Hard (i)||F||Clijsters||5–7, 6–4, 6–2||9||8|
|2004||Australian Open||Hard||F||Henin||6–3, 4–6, 6–3||9||9|
|2005||Canada (Toronto)||Hard||F||Clijsters||7–5, 6–1||10||9|
|2006||French Open||Clay||SF||Henin||6–3, 6–2||10||10|
|2006||Eastbourne||Grass||SF||Henin||6–3, 5–7, 6–1||10||11|
|2010||Brisbane||Hard||F||Clijsters||6–3, 4–6, 7–6(6)||11||12|
|2010||Miami||Hard||SF||Clijsters||6–2, 6–7(3), 7–6(6)||12||12|
|2010||Wimbledon||Grass||R16||Clijsters||2–6, 6–2, 6–3||13||12|
Breakdown of the rivalry
- Hard courts: Clijsters, 8–4
- Clay courts: Henin, 5–1
- Grass courts: Henin, 3–2
- Indoors: Clijsters, 2–0
- Grand Slam matches: Henin, 5–3
- Grand Slam finals: Henin, 3–0
- Year-End Championships matches: Clijsters, 1–0
- Year-End Championships finals: None
- Fed Cup matches: None; They are unable to play each other in a Fed Cup match because they both represent Belgium.
- All finals: Henin, 7–4
Year-end ranking timeline
- "Head to Head: Henin vs. Clijsters". Women's Tennis Association. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
- Newman, Paul (2010-06-26). "Clijsters and Henin set for latest episode in Belgian rivalry". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
- "Clijsters triumphs in battle of Belgians, Wozniacki crashes out". The Star. 2010-06-29. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
- "Belgian duo brighten title picture – Tennis, Sport". London: The Independent. 2001-06-06. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "RTÉ Sport: Capriati beats Hingis to reach French Open final". Rte.ie. 2001-06-07. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "RTÉ Sport: Henin topples Clijsters in Heineken final". Rte.ie. 2001-06-23. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- Wade, Stephen (2001-11-11). "Belgium win Fed Cup – Tennis, Sport". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- CBC Sports (2002-01-10). "Hingis, Clijsters to clash in semifinals". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "BBC SPORT | TENNIS | Williams ends Capriati run". BBC News. 2002-05-18. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "BBC SPORT | Tennis | Venus edges out Seles". BBC News. 2002-11-09. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "Clijsters through to Sydney final". Melbourne: theage.com.au. 2003-01-11. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "Blistering Clijsters blasts former world number one Davenport". The Star. January 12, 2003. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
- "Clijsters wins Belgium battle". bbc.co.uk/sport. 15 February 2003.
- Venus Williams (2003-02-16). "BBC SPORT | Tennis | Venus sparkles in Antwerp". BBC News. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "Henin-Hardenne follows in Graf’s footsteps in Berlin". The Star. May 12, 2003. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
- Kirk, David (2003-06-08). "Henin holds all the aces". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
- "PLUS - TENNIS - PLUS - TENNIS - Clijsters Defeats Henin-Hardenne - NYTimes.com". Select.nytimes.com. 2003-06-22. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "Henin-Hardenne takes US Open". bbc.co.uk/sport. 7 September 2003.
- "Clijsters downs Henin-Hardenne to retain top spot – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Abc.net.au. 2003-10-13. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- Justine inflicts hard times on Clijsters again – Tennis, Sport. The Independent (2004-02-01). Retrieved on 2010-12-15.
- BBC SPORT | Tennis | Clijsters triumphant in Toronto. BBC News (2005-08-21). Retrieved on 2010-12-15.
- "Henin denies Clijsters a birthday party – Tennis – Sport". smh.com.au. 2006-06-09. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- Bathgate, Stuart. "Henin-Hardenne takes advantage as Clijsters loses the mental battle – Scotsman.com Sport". Sport.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "Henin-Hardenne to meet Myskina in Eastbourne final – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Abc.net.au. 2006-06-24. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "Belgian rivalry one-sided in recent years – tennis – ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2006-07-06. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "Henin announces shock retirement". BBC Sport. 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
- Sports.Espn.go.com, Report: Clijsters to enter WTA events, 24 March 2009
- "Henin to return to tennis in 2010". BBC Sport. 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2009-09-22.
- Clijsters beats Henin in a thriller – Brisbane International Tennis. Brisbaneinternational.com.au (2010-01-09). Retrieved on 2010-12-15.
- Tennis – Sony Ericsson Open – Clijsters Wins Belgian Battle In Thriller. Sony Ericsson Open. Retrieved on 2010-12-15.
- 2010 Wimbledon Championships Website – Official Site by IBM. 2010.wimbledon.org (2010-06-28). Retrieved on 2010-12-15.
- BBC Sport – Tennis – Kim Clijsters & Justine Henin ponder 2012 doubles move. BBC News (2010-12-10). Retrieved on 2010-12-15.
- "BBC Sport – Tennis – Justine Henin quits tennis because of injury". BBC News. 2011-01-26. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "GDFSUEZ Diamond Games 2010". Gdfsuezdiamondgames.be. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
- "Kim Clijsters versus Justine Henin". ITFTennis.com. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
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