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Justine Henin to coach World No. 21 Elina Svitolina

12 Feb 2016, 09:24 IST
Justine Henin backhand
Justine Henin was famous for her single-handed backhand

Tennis legends returning to the sport as coaches always generates a lot of excitement. The latest to join the bandwagon is former World No. 1 and seven-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin. The Belgian great has been added to the 21st ranked Ukrainian Elina Svitolina’s team as a special consultant.

“The contract of the Belgian defines her as a special consultant. Henin will accompany the Ukrainian in some of the tournaments with the first one taking part next week in Dubai,” Svitolina’s website said in an official announcement.

There was a possibility of the 2004 Olympic champion joining the 21-year-old’s team ever since the two started working together in the off-season. Not only that, Svitolina had earlier even trained at Henin’s academy in Belgium.

Elina Svitolina wants to break into the top 10

The Ukrainian, meanwhile, will continue her association with her present coach, Iain Hughes. The 2010 junior French Open champion has made rapid strides on the WTA Tour for the past couple of years and reached a career-high ranking of 15th last August.

In 2015, she reached her first Major quarter-final at the French Open and has so far won three WTA singles titles. Additionally, she has also claimed four top-10 scalps, which includes two wins over the reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.

It would be interesting to see if she can utilize Henin’s expertise and tactical acumen to accomplish her mission of breaking into the top 10, as her website claimed.

The 33-year-old Belgian thus follows in the footsteps of some of her former rivals who too were bitten by the coaching bug and made a return to the Tour. Amelie Mauresmo, to whom she lost in the 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon finals, is the most famous of them all. The Frenchwoman helms the coaching team of the ATP World No. 2 Andy Murray.

Among others, three-time Major winner Lindsay Davenport too imparted her knowledge to the talented American youngster Madison Keys. The current doubles World No. 1 Martina Hingis also occasionally mentors the World No. 11 Belinda Bencic whose official coach is Hingis’ mother, Melanie Molitor.

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