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Justine Henin’s Backhand: Music of the Spheres

I watch Justine in slow motion, the transfer of weight from back to front foot, the coiling uncoiling of the legs the hips the shoulders the core. (Is it true she did a thousand sit ups a day?) Justine’s one-handed backhand, “the most beautiful shot in tennis” (John McEnroe). If all life could be as anticipated yet unexpected. If all life could be so powerful yet loose, free-flowing. If we could somehow record all the spectator’s sighs in the world’s stadiums the moment after. If we could record all these sighs, apply the Zen of John Cage, the minimalism of Steve Reich, the ensuing music would be as sacred as Palestrina’s a cappella masses, as mysterious as the sound of whales. 

Discarded lines, Detritus:

1. When a woman slaps a man, she does not slap him with the back of her hand. The backhanded swing lacks power, is unnatural to the human form.

2. “Pound for pound, Justine the best player of her generation” (Billie Jean King).

3.  I never saw Justine’s backhand live, but I remember sighs from 2,000 spectators after every Gasquet one-hander waved its baton to an orchestra of fans on an intimate US Open court.

Brooke Hunter, Justine Henin’s Backhand

About the Artist

Originally from the Midwest, Brooke Hunter is a 23-year-old artist who just completed her BFA in drawing and painting from the Laguna College of Art and Design. Brooke and her work are part of a feature article on “21 under 31” in the current issue of Southwest Art. While she’s not painting, Brooke teaches classical realism to children and adults at Art Steps in Laguna Hills, California.

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“Justine Henin” first published with the National Senior Men’s Tennis Association.

Tennis Players as Works of Art

Justine Henin Page from International Tennis Hall of Fame