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Fatigue from virus still dogging former No. 1

10/11/2004

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Olympic champion Justine Henin-Hardenne
ended her season Monday, saying she was exhausted after two years
of a relentless effort to become the WTA Tour's top-ranked player.

She said an energy-sapping virus that weakened her since April
was a symptom of a more general malaise caused by her pursuit of
titles and the No. 1 ranking.

"The last two years, I made a lot of effort to get where I am
now, to become the No. 1, to win Grand Slams and the Olympics,"
she said on her Web site. "It's very logical and understandable
that I'm this tired. It's high time I get some rest now."

Despite months of fatigue, in August she won the singles gold
medal at the Olympics.

"The last strength I had was in Athens," she said. "Afterward
it was tough to recover."


The 22-year-old Belgian withdrew from last week's tournament in
Filderstadt, Germany. She was to defend her title in next week's event in
Zurich, Switzerland, before November's season-ending WTA Tour
Championships in Los Angeles.

"The will is still there," she said, adding she hopes a good
start next season will return her to the top ranking.

Another former No. 1 player, Belgian countrywoman Kim Clijsters,
also has ended her season. Clijsters injured her left wrist again
two weeks ago and will have to rest for at least six weeks.

Henin-Hardenne reached No. 1 in October 2003 but has fallen to
third behind Amelie Mauresmo and Lindsay Davenport. She could fall
from the top five by the end of the season.

"A period of rest will allow me to recharge my batteries and
become even stronger. When I'll be fully recovered, the enthusiasm
to win will be even bigger," she said.

Despite long layoffs, she has won five tournaments this season,
including the Australian Open and the Olympic title.

She was first forced to rest after being diagnosed with the
blood disorder in April. She came back in June to try to defend her
French Open title but lost in the second round and left the circuit
again.

After her Olympic victory, she lost in the fourth round at the
U.S. Open and has not played since. She said she had fallen ill
again before the Grand Slam tournament in New York and has been
dogged by fatigue since.