Henin tipped for shock return by Belgian media

BRUSSELS: Belgian media were speculating Wednesday on a possible return to women's tennis of former world number one and multiple Grand Slam title winner Justine Henin, 15 months after she retired from the game.

Noting that Henin, 27, is back in training for exhibition matches, several papers have speculated she may return to the circuit as compatriot Kim Clijsters did earlier this summer.

Vers l'Avenir newspaper reported that "Juju has as good as taken her decision to return to competition from January."

Neither the Belgian tennis federation nor the player herself commented on the rumours - seven-time Grand Slam title winner Henin is currently abroad working on a charity campaign with Unicef.

Close friend and former coach Carlos Rodriguez played down the rumours.

"There's nobody telling me of a return. We've not spoken about that. I am really astonished," Rodriguez insisted.

But he did confirm that "she is training, yes. Two or three times a week to get herself in shape as she's not played for a year. That's all."

However, his wife was quoted as telling Vers l'Avenir that "something is in the offing but I'm not allowed to talk about it."

Officially, Henin is down to play exhibition matches at the end of the year in Belgium and Dubai.

Under international anti-doping rules Henin would have to inform the game's authorities if she were to return three emonths beforehand.

Before hanging up her racquet in May last year she had spent a total of 117 weeks as world number one.