ATP CHAMPIONS TOUR
Henman To Return At AEGON Masters Tennis In London
by Press Release|
Tim Henman will end an absence from competitive tennis of more than three years after announcing that he is to play in the AEGON Masters Tennis event at the Royal Albert Hall in London, 30th November - 5th December.
In his first appearance on the ATP Champions Tour, the former World No.4 and four-time Wimbledon semifinalist will compete against many of his old rivals at the ever-popular event, which is now in its 14th year.
Since ending a 14-year professional career in September 2007, Henman has played tennis in public only once - in an exhibition match last year to launch the new roof on Wimbledon’s Centre Court. Now, he can’t wait to return to training ahead of the event at the Royal Albert Hall where he will play at least three round-robin matches against some of the best and most popular tennis players in history.
“Having had a break for two and a half years, I’m really looking forward to playing tennis again,” said Henman, who began his transition back into the game by joining the All England Club committee and commentating on Wimbledon for BBC Television.
“For me there could be no better place to start to play tennis again than at the Royal Albert Hall in the AEGON Masters Tennis. I always felt that if I started to play tennis again it would be in London first. The event has been going for 14 years, the Royal Albert Hall is such a special place to play and I’ve seen the event grow in stature and the competition get better and better. I’m really looking forward to seeing how my game holds up and hopefully it will be the first event of many for me on the ATP Champions Tour.”
Life After Tennis
Having retired at the age of 33 with 11 singles titles and six Grand Slam semifinal appearances to his name, as well as shouldering the hopes of a nation for more than a decade and having a hill named after him, Henman finally drew breath. Even for a man who had held such a deep love for the sport, it was time to step away for a while. Happily married to Lucy, and with three daughters - Rosie, Olivia and Grace - that’s exactly what he did.
“From the age of five to the age of 33, tennis was the dominating factor in my life,” said Henman. “For 27 of those years it was my hobby, but I think in the last 6 months it was becoming my job and I never wanted that to be the case so I really feel like I stopped at the right time. Once I did stop playing professionally I just wanted to have a complete break. It’s been fantastic not to have to worry about practice, training and travel, and going away to tournaments and missing my family. Just to have that continuity of being at home has been incredible. I’ve spent a lot of time with my family and on the golf course, but I’ve also been able to do things like going skiing - I was never able to ski while I was competing. Just having the freedom to plan holidays and plan time away and not have to worry about my fitness and my schedule - everything that goes with being a professional tennis player - has been great. I could not have enjoyed my retirement more.”
Yet, like almost every major player over the past decade or so, from John McEnroe to Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg to Pat Rafter, and of course Henman’s old nemesis Goran Ivanisevic, the bug to play and the chance to do so at the competitive yet convivial AEGON Masters Tennis tournament, was too much to resist. He had commentated on the sport at Wimbledon for a couple of years, and finally realised that he missed playing the game.
“I am ready to add playing tennis to my schedule again because I feel like I’ve had a good break and my appetite for being on the court and hitting balls is returning,” said Henman.
“To have the AEGON Masters Tennis on the horizon is a good goal to work towards. It’s a good reason to get off my backside, get in the gym and get fitter. I saw a lot of the final between Rafter and Edberg last year and it was impressive. They’re both in great shape and they both look a lot younger than their years so I’m going to have to work hard to make sure my game matches up well. First and foremost I want to play well because tennis has always been a huge passion of mine and to play well in London in front of a British crowd is another incentive. But at the end of the day, these tournaments are to be enjoyed, and if you don’t come away with the right result then it’s not the end of the world. To know that I’ll be able to play with less pressure will make it extra enjoyable.”