The tale of Justine Henin and Roland Garros was as epic as they come, a wire-to-wire journey of passion and loss, effort and triumph.
There’d been the childhood moment of significance. The week she turned 10, Henin attended the 1992 Roland Garros women’s singles final with her mother, Francoise. Witnessing a dramatic battle between Monica Seles and Stefanie Graf, the young Justine turned to Francoise and vowed that one day she too would compete at Roland Garros.
Alas, Francoise died three years later. “After my mother died,” Henin said years later, “it was never the same.” Her ambitions fueled even more by the promise she’d made, Henin persevered. She was a rare tennis combination—a hard worker with a flair for artistry, most eloquently revealed by her sparkling one-handed backhand. In 1997, as a wild card entrant, Henin won the Roland Garros junior title, fighting off four match points in a semifinal win over Nathalie Dechy. As Henin later said, “When I won the French Open Juniors, I knew [tennis] was going to be my job.”