Roland Garros feels like home to Henin
Paris: Justine Henin feels at home at Roland Garros, surrounded by familiar faces and even happy to see her old locker.
"I went to see the place with my locker in the locker rooms where I had won the last time. It`s a sort of good-luck charm for me, that specific locker," four-times champion Henin told reporters on Friday, two days before the start of the French Open.
"But the most emotional thing was to meet people again, coming back after all those years and seeing the same people working for the tournament, with whom I had sort of created some friendly relationships, and also to come back to clay here, which is the best clay ever."
The Belgian, who returned from 20 months in retirement in January, won the last match she played on the Paris clay three years ago.
"I know the site perfectly well and I feel very much at ease here," said Henin, 27. "Very often I stayed for the whole two weeks in this tournament, so for me it`s easy to find my way here. It`s always very special for me."
"I practised on Court One and I remembered that 13 years ago I won the juniors here. All this comes to my memory."
Henin, champion in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007, is expecting a warm welcome from the local crowd.
"I feel at home here because the French crowd always welcomed me incredibly well, and many Belgian people come because it`s close," the former world number one said.
"When you are at the other end of the world in Australia you feel more isolated, whereas I feel here I`m surrounded by many more people...Of course I have to deal with that, because it means I want to do even better here than elsewhere."
Henin will start her bid for a fifth French Open title with a first-round match against Bulgaria`s Tsvetana Pironkova, possibly on centre court.
"I know that court very well. I don`t really need to practise on that particular court in advance," she smiled.