SYDNEY — Former world number one Justine Henin has been granted a wildcard to play in the 2010 Australian Open in her return to tennis, organisers said on Monday.
The 27-year-old Belgian, who won the Australian Open in 2004, announced last month that she was ending her self-imposed retirement to come back to the women's tennis circuit.
Her coach, Carlos Rodriguez, said last week that Henin was likely to make her return in the Brisbane International, starting on January 3, ahead of the January 18-31 Australian Open in Melbourne.
"I spoke to Justine's team over the weekend and was happy to grant her request for a wildcard into the Australian Open," tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement.
"Justine is the ultimate competitor, the winner of seven Grand Slam titles, and we are looking forward to welcoming her back to the Australian Open.
"I know Justine will not have made the decision to come out of retirement lightly, and have no doubt she will be in great shape and prepared to compete against the world's best."
Henin won a total of 41 WTA Tour titles and held the world top ranking for 117 non-consecutive weeks. She held the ranking when she retired in May 2008, citing a succession of injuries and a desire to live life away from the game.
But in her announcement last month, she said she realised that tennis was what she does best and was still physically capable of embarking on her second playing career.
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