After her stellar straight-sets semifinal victory, a reporter told Justine Henin that Venus Williams said she wasn’t feeling 100 percent today.
“I’m surprised,” interrupted Henin, in a deadpan voice.
This evening, Justine Henin become the first player since Martina Hingis at the 2001 Australian Open to beat both Williams sisters in one Grand Slam.
For a player who describes herself as mentally fragile—she said before the tournament that the Williams sisters weighed on her mind at Wimbledon—it was a significant accomplishment.
“I didn’t believe enough in myself, didn’t trust myself enough in the last few years against them,” said Henin afterwards. “And then this year a lot of things have changed. I trust myself much more.”
There were moments today when Henin looked tight and blew big chances. But there were also moments when she attacked ferociously, running to the net and volleying as well as she ever has. It made the difference.
“I still have a lot of respect, but I’m not scared [of the Williams sisters] anymore,” she said. “It’s been really, really important to me in this tournament to play both of them. It was a great challenge and I did it.”
Tomorrow, she’ll play for her second U.S. Open title and her seventh Grand Slam. (For those keeping score, Serena has eight and Venus has six.) Good stuff.