UNTIL YESTERDAY THIS WOMAN WAS THE #1 TENNIS PLAYER IN THE WORLD. CAN YOU NAME HER?
There was a stunning retirement in the world of sports today.
The top female tennis player in the world retired. The problem (for the sport of tennis anyway) is I’ll bet you’ve never even heard of her.
Still guessing? She won 41 tournaments (including seven grand slam events) and has won over $19 million in her tennis career. She has been ranked as the #1 tennis player in the world for the last 100 weeks.
Still don’t know who the woman is?
Justine Henin, the world’s top ranked womens tennis player, has quit the WTA tour. She retires at the top of her sport at the age of 25. There have been several tennis superstars that have retired at a young age. One of them even became a nun:
Still, it’s almost unprecedented that a number one player in any sport would retire at the top of their game. Michael Jordan did it…
But he came back.
Other legendary sports figures retired early but there were usually extenuating circumstances.
Following the 1966 season, Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax retired. He was 30-years-old. Koufax was 27-9 in his final season.
Koufax had 27 complete games, 323 innings pitched, 317 strikeouts, and a 1.73 ERA and led the league in shutouts in his final year. Koufax went out in style. He won the pitching Triple Crown (leading the league in wins, strikeouts and ERA.) He was a unanimous choice as the Cy Young Award winner, when the award was given to only one pitcher in both leagues combined. The Dodgers also won the NL pennant.
But Koufax was hiding a secret that entire season. He had a sore arm. And 1966 was the days before modern arthroscopic arm surgery. Following the season Koufax was FORCED to retire.
Football player Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns also retired early. He is widely considered the greatest running back in NFL history. Sportswriter Bert Sugar named Brown #1 in his book The Greatest Athletes of All Time.
Brown retired from the Browns following the 1965 season. He was 29-years-old. In his final season, Brown rushed for over 1,500 yards (in just 14 games) and Cleveland went 11-3 going to the NFL Championship game where they lost to Green Bay.
Following the season, Brown went to work on the movie Ice Station Zebra. He soon discovered he could make more money as the 5,000th best actor in Hollywood than as the best player in NFL history. Cleveland’s idiot owner, Art Modell, refused to pay Brown an extra $10,000. In fact, Modell threatened to fine Brown for reporting to training camp late to work on his movie. Brown told him to go to hell and never played football again.
The retirements of Sandy Koufax and Jim Brown were stunning news in their time. Yet, over 40 years later, both are arguably STILL household names.
That’s not the case with Justine Henin. I doubt that %1 of Americans know who she is.
Don’t get me wrong, some female tennis players are famous celebrities. Maria Sharapova is certainly famous.
However, Sharapova is only famous because she is insanely HOT. In terms of endorsements, Sharapova long ago left Henin BEHIND her.
MARIA SHARAPOVA’S ASS
The Williams sisters (Venus and Serena) are also famous celebrities.
THE WILLIAMS SISTERS
At this point though, both Serena and Venus are known more for what they do OFF the tennis court.
SERENA WILLIAMS: ALSO MORE FAMOUS FOR HER ASS THAN HER TENNIS
And of course there’s Anna Kournikova. Gee, I wonder why she’s famous?:
Kournikova may be the most famous tennis player in the world even though she never won a tournament. She’s also retired from tennis. Like anyone noticed.
The point is female tennis players are recognized solely and ONLY for their looks and not their accomplishments on the tennis court.
That’s why noone will miss Justine Henin. Nobody ever knew she existed because she has a face like a horse.
JUSTINE HENIN: FACE LIKE A HORSE WITH THE ARMS OF A MAN
You think that’s harsh? I had dinner with a group of 11 people tonight. The group was about evenly divided between men and women and their ages ranged from 18-into their 60s. My sample group was white and hispanic with one African American and one Native American-a pretty representative cross sample of America.
I asked this group of 11 people one simple question, “Who is Justine Henin?”
And, with my radio background, I even offered a PRIZE if anyone could guess correctly. Not one person could identify Justine Henin.
And, despite her on-court accomplishments, that is Henin’s ultimate legacy. She retired at the age of 25. And nobody cared.