By Danielle Rossingh and Helene Fouquet

May 15, Bloomberg

Justine Henin, the top-ranked women's tennis player, said she's quitting the sport immediately at age 25 to make ``a new start'' in life.

``It's a relief, a new page is opening up,'' Henin told reporters during a press conference at her tennis academy in Limelette, Belgium. ``I look toward to the future. It's a way of looking at what's essential.''

She is retiring after an emotional year, and following her most successful season. Henin won 10 of the 14 events she entered in 2007, including the French and U.S. opens. She skipped the 2007 Australian Open after separating from her husband, Pierre-Yves Hardenne, and patched up her relationship with her estranged father, sister and two brothers. Henin's mother died of cancer when she was 12.

This season, she hasn't been as successful on the court. She withdrew from this week's tournament in Italy complaining of fatigue. Henin lost in the third round of the German Open last week to Dinara Safina, a player who had never won a set against her. She has also struggled with a knee injury.

``It's pretty tough for me in the last few weeks and the last few months,'' said Henin, who has won seven grand Slam titles in her nine years on the WTA Tour. ``The game is tough, you need to be really strong physically and emotionally.''

Henin lost in the quarterfinals of this year's Australian Open to eventual champion Maria Sharapova, who is ranked No. 2 in the world.

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photo: Justine Henin of Belgium kisses her championship trophy following her win over Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in their women's final match on day thirteen of the U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on Sept. 8, 2007. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News