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Henin wants Eastbourne tennis to stay
Justine Henin will face another heartbreak if the International Women's Open at Eastbourne is scrapped.
Henin retained her title after a roller-coaster 7-5 6-7 7-6 victory against Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo but knows next year's defence could coincide with the final staging of the 32-year-old tournament.
The world No. 1 claimed victory at Devonshire Park following a traumatic 12 months in which she got divorced and was reconciled with her family.
Eastbourne could be axed from the calendar if the LTA revamp the tournament structure after 2008 and Henin would be distraught to see it go.
Henin, 25, said: "I don't know what is going to happen with Eastbourne.
"It is difficult to make everyone happy and to make best decisions for everyone.
"It would be sad because it is a great preparation for Wimbledon and it has very nice people who do a great job and really love tennis.
"I hope I will be able to do the tournament next year and in the next few years.
"I'm happy to win another title and it was against one of the best opponents on grass."
Fittingly, what could be the penultimate final was a spectacle that sat with the best that Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert served up in the past.
A 5,000-strong crowd witnessed an absorbing two hour and 26 minutes of action full of twists and turns on a blustery centre court.
Last year's Wimbledon finalists - the first to meet each other the following year at Eastbourne since Navratilova and Evert in 1979 - largely played controlled tennis.
Mauresmo, accused of being a choker' on big occasions prior to her All England Club triumph last July, looked to be reverting to type in the opening set.
She threw away a break advantage to allow Henin to sweep through to lead.
Mauresmo was broken to love in the 11th game as Belgian Henin produced an array of winners and it looked as though the momentum was with her as she grabbed an early break in the second set.
But Mauresmo refused to crumble and broke back despite Henin saving three set points.
Mauresmo served for the match at 5-4 in the deciding set but Henin held her nerve and broke back to force a third-set tie-break for the second year in a row.
And, just like it was with Russian Anastasia Myskina last year, the outcome was the same.
A flying start saw the Belgium race to a 4-0 lead and she never surrendered the advantage as she claimed the trophy and $44,000 cheque.
Wimbledon starts today but Henin refused to predict completing a hat-trick of titles after already winning the French open and Eastbourne.
She said: "A lot of things can happen. My first goal is my first round match against Jorgelina Cravero.
"If you look too far you make a big mistake. You have to stay focused."
Psychologically, Henin admits with her personal issues behind her, she is again enjoying her tennis.
She said: "For the first time in my life I feel very, very happy. It's been difficult to control my emotions.
"Tennis was second in my life but you always take something positive from tough times.
"I've had a lot of good things in my life since and when you are happy off the court you enjoy your game much more.
"Having my family being back in my life is good."
Mauresmo, 27, came to Eastbourne looking for court time following appendicitis and thigh problems and ended the jinx of two successive first-round exits.
She said: "I've found my rhythm against on court and I'm definitely up for Wimbledon. It was a good match."
Mauresmo, who begins her Wimbledon defence against American Jamea Jackson, also shares Henin's passion for Eastbourne.
She said: "The organisers do a great job and the crowd seemed to be behind me."
It would be a shame if Eastbourne's latest finalists cannot continue to hone a genuine grasscourt rivalry at the Sussex event loved by players and fans for its relaxed atmosphere and top-class tennis.