Henman To Retire From Tennis Following Davis Cup

NEW YORK (AP) -- Tim Henman will play one last time at Wimbledon, but it won't be next summer.

The British tennis star will play his final Grand Slam at the U.S. Open and then retire in September after the Davis Cup playoff at the All England Club.

The 32-year-old Henman, who reached four Wimbledon semifinals and never won a Grand Slam title in his 14-year career, cited a sore back and bad knee Thursday for his decision to call it quits.

"The way that it's affected my performance has obviously made my life a little bit harder and probably a little bit less enjoyable," Henman said at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Henman is unseeded going into the U.S. Open, which begins Monday. He is scheduled to play for Britain against Croatia for a spot in the Davis Cup World Group.

"To play at Wimbledon at Davis Cup will be very special for me," he said. "It's always been an honor and a pleasure to play any event at the All England."

Injuries have caught up with the 92nd-ranked Henman, who won 11 singles titles in his career and was ranked as high as No. 4 in 2002. He was sidelined three months at the start of the season with a knee injury and is 5-11 in singles matches.

In June, he lost in the second round at the All England Club for the third straight year.

He carried the hopes of British fans through 14 Wimbledon appearances, with many gathering on "Henman Hill" to cheer him. Fans were looking for the first homegrown Wimbledon men's champion since Fred Perry in 1936. Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.

Would he like another crack at Wimbledon next summer?

"The simple answer is no because I've played there so much over the years and had some fantastic memories," he said. "Some of the best memories of my career."

In June, Henman once again enthralled the Centre Court crowd, outlasting Carlos Moya in a riveting fifth set win on his seventh match point. A double-fault by Moya on the third match point of the 24th game of the set gave Henman a 6-3, 1-6, 5-7, 6-2, 13-11 win.

"That was something special. The quality of play by both of us and me winning helped," he said with a smile. "That's one I'll remember fondly."

He bowed out to Feliciano Lopez in his next match after winning the first two sets.

Henman reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 1996-97 and 2003-04 and the semifinals at the French Open and U.S. Open in 2004.

Earlier this month, his back acted up again during the first round of the Cincinnati Masters, losing to Juan Ignacio Chela. In a first-round match in Washington, Henman double-faulted on match point in a third-set tiebreaker to hand American John Isner a win in just his second ATP tour event.

Henman then sat down with coach Paul Annacone to discuss his future.

"That's when I knew I wanted to stop," he said. "It's become a little more clear cut for me -- playing in pain. For me to just hang around for nine months just to go and play Wimbledon for the sake of it, it doesn't really appeal to me."

Henman was mindful of the pressure of representing his country at Wimbledon, and he would've loved to win a major there.

"I was aware of expectations," Henman said with typical understatement. "As an individual athlete in that environment, you have to really train your mind to stay away from those thoughts, because that is only going to heighten the pressure.

"I played some of my best tennis at Wimbledon, and that's something I will always be very, very proud of."

He was also mindful of the British press.

"I'll probably be the first to admit I'll probably be judged by whether I won Wimbledon," Henman said. "Do I think that's right? No, I probably wouldn't think that's right. But I've also judged myself against the best players in the world.

"Being No. 4 in the world and making the semifinals that I did -- I think that makes you a good player."

Henman was ranked in the top 10 for five years. A winner of four career doubles titles, he has earned $11 million in prize money.

"I think the kid overachieved his whole career," television analyst Mary Carillo said. "He was one of the best volleyers in this generation of men's tennis. He was a very classy fellow."

John McEnroe, a winner of 17 Grand Slam titles, noted Henman lost in the semis to such heavy hitters as Pete Sampras, Lleyton Hewitt and Goran Ivanisevic.

"He wasn't as strong as a lot of these guys out there, but he knew how to play," McEnroe said. "He was a huge boost for the sport in England. He was the consummate pro type of guy."

With Greg Rusedski retiring earlier this year and now Henman, the British press are calling it an end of an era. The heir apparent is 20-year-old Andy Murray, who is ranked No. 19, although he's been hampered by a wrist injury.

"Hopefully, the pieces have been put in place so the next generation can come through," Henman said. "Andy -- fingers crossed -- is going to play a big, big part in it."


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