The news of Tim Henman’s impending retirement was by no means a surprise but it is sad news nonetheless. For over a decade, Henman has almost single-handedly carried the torch for British tennis. He has far exceeded the expectations of his coaches, reaching no. 4 in the world and staying in the top ten for over five years on the bounce. An achievement unmatched by any other solo British sporting star in recent years, barring perhaps Colin Montgomerie. He has been a consistent, world class performer.
I’ve always been a huge supporter of Henman. I’ve cheered at his successes and been frustrated at his inexplicable losses. And like many, will lament the fact that he didn’t ever win the Wimbledon title he so richly deserved. He has carried himself with impeccable dignity in the face of often ludicrous and ignorant criticism, mainly by hacks who think tennis begins and ends with Wimbledon fortnight. He has worn the pressure of the British zeal for success and delivered a great deal of simply mesmerising serve-volley tennis. His skills are a dying art in the wham bam game and will be sorely missed.
I’ll say it just one more time. Anyone who brands Henman as a heroic failure is an ignorant pratt. Eleven tour titles including the Paris Masters which is, in effect, the fifth major. More semi finals than you can shake a stick at, often on courts where he should not be able to progress so far (Roland Garros in particular) and a mainstay of any British Davis Cup succcess for more than ten years.
He should look back on his career with massive pride. When he began his pro career, no coach thought he would do so well for so long. That he did is testament to his spirit, will, skill and desire.
Have a great retirement, Tim, you deserve it. And one last thing. Please stay in the game and help the LTA. They really need it.