Pocketsized Henin scaled the heights
Justine Henin, who announced on Wednesday she was hanging up her racket for good two years on from an initial retirement, became one of the all-time giants of the women's game, her wonderful one-handed backhand and tenacity making up for what the diminutive Belgian lacked in physique.
When she first retired in May 2008 it was with a feeling that with seven Grand Slams and 43 singles titles - including 2004 Olympic gold - she had achieved what she wanted to achieve professionally, having spent two years as world No 1.
In contrast, her definitive retirement is down to a persistent elbow problem.
Henin said in a letter published on her official website that she had to recognise the senselessness of ploughing on against medical advice.
"Today, the (medical) examinations are clear and the doctors are agreed that my elbow is too damaged for me to be able continuing with my passion and my job at a high level," Henin said on her internet site.
Entering 2011, Henin had not played a tournament since suffering a career-threatening right elbow injury when losing to compatriot Kim Clijsters in the fourth round at Wimbledon in late June.
After a successful Hopman Cup showing, she then lost in the third round of the Australian Open to Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova.
"After due reflection and following doctors' advice the time has come to face up to the evidence and accept that this is the definitive end of my career. But it's hard, very hard, as I came back with such desire."
Recognition that she must now definitively give up her "passion" for tennis brings the encore curtain down on one of the great careers the women's game has seen.
Standing just 1.67 metres and weighing 57 kilograms Henin should logically have been somewhat out of place in a game largely dominated by towering power-hitters such as the Williams sisters, Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova.
Such contempories might have expected to blow away a feisty but small -almost waif-like - rival.
But a mixture of talent and sheer determination saw the blonde from Liege more than mark out her territory - so much so that her honours netted her some 21 million dollars in career earnings, seventh on the all-time list currently headed by Serena Williams.
World No 1 for two seasons, Henin started 2008 the undisputed world champion although her campaign in the Olympic year got off to a poor start when she was hammered by Sharapova in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
One of her chief reasons for coming back was that her Slam haul included four French Opens. two US Open crowns and one Australian Open - but no title earned on the grass courts of Wimbledon.
Losing finals in 2001 and 2006 left Henin short of the full Slam set.
Off court, her personal life was sometimes troubled.
She has two older brothers and a sister but lost her mother to cancer when she was just 12.
Coached by Argentine Carlos Rodriguez from the age of 14, Henin won the French Open junior title at 15 but saw her momentum slowed down by a succession of injuries.
She made a professional breakthrough in 2001, reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros before losing to Clijsters, lost to Venus Williams in the Wimbledon final and teamed up with Clijsters to win the Fed Cup.
In November 2002, Henin married Pierre-Yves Hardenne, a tennis coach at a private ceremony in which guests were asked not to bring presents but make donations to an association that helped children with cancer.
In 2003, she won her first title at Roland Garros on the Paris clay, thrashing Clijsters in straight sets which set in train a winning machine.
She then won the US Open and finished the year as world No.1
In 2004, she picked up where she left off, winning the Australian Open only to be hit by a mystery virus which cost her the No 1 spot -but she did add the Athens Olympic Games gold to her run of successes.
Back to full fitness, she won the French Open for the second time in 2005 and really found her stride again in 2006 reaching the final of all four Grand Slams but only lifting another Paris title for her efforts.
In 2007 she won Roland Garros again and a second US Open crown but the year was marred by her divorce and a serious car accident involving her eldest brother.
That incident helped her repair strained relations with her father from whom she had been estranged.
Henin started 2008 as a hot tip for more success but shocked the world in announcing she was quitting ahead of the French Open.
She returned a year-and-a-half later and reached the 2010 Australian Open final, losing to Serena Williams.
But thereafter, injury took its toll and finally, Wednesday, Henin said the time had come to seek out "new adventures" after "a wonderful journey."