Emotions in motion

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

There isn't much that happens between the white lines of a tennis court that gets deep into the steely mind of Justine Henin.

Yes, the world's No. 1 women's player at times battled with the swirling winds yesterday at the Rexall Centre. And losses, such as her semi-final bouncing to Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon last month still sting.

But in the context of a wildly emotional year, the resistance of the breeze and the pluck of Chinese opponent Shuai Peng were merely minor nuisances for the Belgian star.

Henin was never in danger of not advancing to the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup, powering through with a 7-5, 6-2 win.

It was the type of clinical performance that has matched the all-business personality of the quiet superstar.

Slowly, however, some of those windows into her personality have begun to ease open in what has been a life-altering year for Henin.

It began by losing the hyphen and the husband in a split from her spouse of almost five years, Pierre-Yves Hardenne.

And it continued with perhaps the toughest test yet, a spring reunion with her estranged family, a father and brothers she hadn't spoken to since 1999.

"I'm 25 years old and it's been a lot of things to deal with," Henin said yesterday, allowing a glimpse at a personal life that was once strictly off-limits to strangers. "It's been a big experience in my life. No regrets. I learned a lot of things."

Henin was getting over her failed marriage in April when word reached her that older brother, David Henin, had been hospitalized after a serious car accident.

It turned out to be the flashpoint for Justine to help mend whatever caused that family rift from her teenage years.

"It was something horrible that turned into something good," David Henin told reporters after the French Open. "We were apart a long time. Too long. It was very, very powerful."

Powerful enough to prompt Henin to unleash a rare burst of personal emotion after her fourth French Open win in June. In her victory speech at Roland Garros, with everything still raw, Henin publicly dedicated the win to her family and said: "I've missed you."

Yesterday, the top seed and former Rogers Cup champion admitted that in the aftermath of the reunion, she had to work harder to focus on court.

"It took me a few weeks to concentrate on my tennis again," said Henin, who will face Russian Nadia Petrova today in the quarter-finals. "You know, when you are on the court in front of a lot of people, you cannot lie. You show how you feel.

"It's been tough at the beginning but I think I'm very proud of how I've been dealing with the situation."

The focus now has returned to tennis and preparations for the U.S. Open, later this month in New York, an event she has yet to win.


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