Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tim Henman

Timothy Henry "Tim" Henman OBE (born 6 September 1974) is a retired English professional tennis player and former British Number One. Henman played a serve-and-volley style of tennis that suited the grass courts of Wimbledon. He was the first player from the United Kingdom since Roger Taylor in the 1970s to reach the semi-finals of the Wimbledon Men's Singles Championship. Henman never reached the finals of any Grand Slam but having reached six Grand Slam semi-finals, won 15 career ATP titles (11 in singles and 4 in doubles), and been ranked number 4 in the world, Henman was one of Britain's most successful open era male tennis players. He retired after helping Great Britain defeat Croatia in a Davis Cup match played in September 2007. Nicknamed "Tiger Tim", Henman is worth £17 million and remains a celebrity among the public. Henman was privately educated at the Dragon School, Oxford and later at Reed's School, Cobham, Surrey, where he passed 10 GCSE exams, combining school with a tennis scholarship. Between the ages of 10 and 17 he was a member of the David Lloyd Slater Squad, where he trained alongside a number of other young British tennis hopefuls. Henman won many titles at various different tournaments. While at school, Henman was diagnosed with osteochondritis, a bone disease (one form of chondritis). However, he continued to play tennis. In 1992 won the National Junior titles in singles and doubles, deciding to join the professional tour in 1993. On 11 December 1999, Henman married his longtime girlfriend, TV producer Lucy Heald in Hampshire. Together they have three daughters, Rose Elizabeth "Rosie" (born Hammersmith and Fulham, London, 19 October 2002), Olivia Susan (born Hammersmith and Fulham, 15 December 2004), and Grace (born 14 September 2007). Henman supports Oxford United Football Club and is a keen golfer, playing off scratch.

Henman climbed up the rankings very quickly. In 1994, he was among the top 200 players in the world; by 1995, among the top 100; and by 1996, he had made it into the top 30 and won a medal at the Atlanta Olympics. He was the UK's highest ranked player that year, and won the Most Improved Player trophy at the ATP awards. He was subsequently elected to the ATP Tour Player Council and went on to win his first championship in January 1997. In March of that year, he underwent surgery on his elbow which kept him out of action for two months. During his early career he became the first player ever to be disqualified from the Wimbledon tournament in 1995. The young Henman thrashed a ball in a fit of pique during a doubles match, striking ball girl Caroline Hall on the head. He made a public apology after the incident. Henman came to the attention of the wider tennis world in 1996 when he came from match point down to beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the first round at Wimbledon, going on to reach the quarter finals before losing to Todd Martin. By the time he reached the last 16 at the US Open later in the year, he was firmly established as a top player. He won his first ATP Tour title in January 1997, beating Carlos Moyá at the Sydney International event. He again reached the quarter-final at Wimbledon. In 1998 he went one better, reaching the semi-final for the first time, by which time he was ranked as one of the top 10 ATP players. Henman came close to reaching the final on a number of occasions, losing in the semi-finals in 1998, 1999, 2001 (when just two points from victory at one point) and 2002. In 2000 he reached the fourth round and in 1996, 1997, 2003 and 2004 he lost in the quarter-finals. Two of those semi-final losses were to Pete Sampras. In another, he lost to Lleyton Hewitt who was ranked number 1 in the world at the time. One of the tournaments in which he has been most successful is Queen's Club. He reached the final in 1999, where he lost to Pete Sampras, and went on to reach the final again in 2001 and 2002, where both times he lost to Lleyton Hewitt. Henman ended an eight-match losing streak against Lleyton Hewitt on 25 March 2006, with a 7–6, 6–3 victory at the Nasdaq-100 event in Miami. However, 3 months later at the 2006 Stella Artois Championships, Henman lost to Lleyton Hewitt 6–3, 3–6, 6–2 in the semi-finals. Henman's results in the latter part of his career saw him slip down the rankings to number 62, leading to his being unseeded at Wimbledon in 2006 for the first time in a number of years. At that Wimbledon championships, he lost in the second round to eventual champion Federer, 6–4, 6–0, 6–2, after a five-set victory over Robin Söderling of Sweden in the first round. After this, Henman's results saw an improvement and his world ranking increased to number 39. However, he continued to suffer from injury problems. Henman's poor luck with injury and form continued into the 2007 clay court season with first round losses to Juan Carlos Ferrero 7–5 6–2 in Monaco, Nicolás Almagro 7–5, 6–1 in Rome and a poor showing against 18 year old grand slam debutant Ernests Gulbis 6–4, 6–3, 6–2 in the French Open. Henman's clay court season ended without a single set won. His Grass court season got underway on 12 June 2007 at Queens Club, but was put to an abrupt end by Croatian wildcard entry Marin Čilić. However, he ended the day with a doubles victory with partner Lleyton Hewitt over Australian Jordan Kerr and Austrian Alexander Peya. An early loss at a grass court event in Nottingham was followed up with a poor showing at Wimbledon, with Henman losing in the second round to Feliciano López in 5 sets.

Henman announced at a press conference on 23 August 2007 that he would retire from tennis after the Davis Cup match against Croatia in September 2007. Henman defeated his rival Dmitry Tursunov (who had won five of their six previous matches) in the 1st round of the US Open 6–4, 3–6, 6–3, 6–4 in what many had assumed would be his final grand slam match. He did in fact compete in his final grand slam match on 31 August 2007 and was defeated by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7–6 (7–2), 2–6, 7–5, 6–4 in the second round. Henman seemed slugglish compared to his first round match and threw away serving for the first set. Henman played his final match in the Davis Cup tie against Croatia on 22 September 2007. The doubles match with Jamie Murray was played on Court 1 at Wimbledon which they won 4–6, 6–4, 7–6, 7–5. The match put Great Britain in an unassailable 3–0 lead and back in the World Group, with the doubles win being added to singles wins the previous day from Henman and Andy Murray. After the match Henman told Sue Barker in an interview on BBC Television and in front of the Court 1 crowd, "It's occasions like this and fans like this that I will miss so much". At the time of his retirement Henman, had already committed to playing a Charity Exhibition at London's Royal Albert Hall during the Seniors Tennis Event The Blackrock Masters in December 2007. Henman's opponent was veteran Swede and former Wimbledon Champion Stefan Edberg, Tim won the pro-set 8–4. Henman became part of the commentary team for the BBC coverage of the 2008 Wimbledon Championships and 2009 Wimbledon Championships. Henman took part in a test event for the adoption of the centre court roof in May 2009 and played mixed doubles with Kim Clijsters against husband and wife team Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf.

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