Justine Henin’s coach judges current women’s tennis players, brutally honest


Carlos Rodriguez, best-known as the former coach of once dominant women’s tennis player Justine Henin, was interviewed by Matt Cronin for FOXSports.com and gave harsh reviews of some currently top WTA players.

Ok, the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova can be satisfied, but Jelena Jankovic could feel more than offended. However, we can’t blame Carlos for being honest; I doubt he wanted to insult anyone.

  • Which players does Carlos Rodriguez consider the best?

I have a lot of respect for the other players, but outside of the Willamses and Sharapova, the rest are still really poor.

You can’t teach [how to fight.] You can learn a lot of things, but you cannot change the natural personality of a player. With Serena, Venus, Justine and Jennifer Capriati, they have the personality that even when they weren’t enjoying it, they could go through. There’s no question that Maria, Serena and Venus are far and away from the other players. Their quality is too good.

  • On Jelena Jankovic:

That’s the face of tennis today, with a player who is reaching No.1 without winning a Grand Slam. It’s a sign. She’s a good player, but when you see Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters, they not only win Grand Slams, but they have the charisma. They give something extra, not only hitting balls. There’s more behind them.

  • On the recent struggles of Ana Ivanovic:

I think Ana can do big things, but she needs more maturity. It’s very difficult for a player to learn what to do when she’s in trouble. Ivanovic is not able to have a Plan B or C to solve the situations, and she loses complete control. The coach can help with this, but in the end, it’s up to the player to find for herself what possibilities will work. The coach can only help you to a certain point.

  • On his short coaching of Anna Chakvetadze:

Anna seems like she wants to work, but I told her, at the end of the day, deep inside of you, you don’t want to try to go further and to push yourself more to succeed. I cannot help you if you don’t have the will to do something, even if I’m the best or worst coach in the world. She has the talent. But she’s really confused as to what she needs to do to succeed to do to become a No. 1 or No. 2 player in the world. She’s not ready to make the sacrifices it takes to go to the top, there’s not question about it. A champion is one inside and outside the court, and when you take Anna outside the court, she’s really a disaster.

  • On Nicole Vaidisova‘s potential:

She’s amazing. It comes back to the entourage she has around her. It’s so important. When you are talking mental, these girls are very strong, but when you are talking emotional, it’s very hard. The emotional takes over the mental and she completely loses the way. It’s a pity. I hope someone can take care of her because she’s charismatic and is a really good player, but her emotional (state) and the intelligence is not that good.

  • On Serena Williams:

Serena has the quality, and everything she needs mentally and physically to do it she has. But is she going take care of herself and prepare to go into action? If she does that, I think Serena has another two or three great years left.

  • On Maria Sharapova:

She showed that she’s able to dominate, but it’s not a question of once in a while, it’s a question of regularity and the only way she can do it is to concentrate 100 percent on her tennis. If Maria doesn’t do that, she’s never going to find the consistency throughout the year. In tennis, to be a champion, you have to choose to do everything you have to succeed in your sport. I think today Maria is unable to do so.

She has to concentrate, practice and live for her tennis — no endorsements, publicity and wasting time outside of the court with other things that distract you from No. 1. Once and for all, in front of the mirror, she has to ask herself, ‘What do I want to achieve in my career?’ I have all the possibilities to be No. 1 and stay there for a long time, but this is the price I have to pay.

Additional info:
Carlos also commented on Justine Henin’s possible return to tennis. He said Justine retired because she needed to prove to herself that she can do more than just hit the ball and will only likely consider a comeback once she has taken a very necessary mental break.


  1. Wow! It scares me even more than Sharapova’s father.
    I don’t think he knows that good all the players he mentioned and I’m sure he’s not able to judge them with that cruetly.
    I can’t imagine how hard it was for Justine to work with this person and his thoughts, and I now understand why she retired from tennis: no one would be able to support all that pression!

  2. Hi. Long time reader, first time ‘poster.’

    And Rodriguez’s comments made me want to comment. He must not know JJ well if he thinks Shrieky has more charisma than JJ. That’s what JJ is known for, her ability to entertain a crowd. True, she hasn’t won a Grand Slam, yet, but it doesn’t detract from her amiable persona.

    He’s just a wanna be tennis player who wasn’t good enough and ended up coaching instead. And then his protege retired so that’s done. Get over yourself, hombre.

  3. Jota 6979, now we know what one should go through to become as great a tennis player as Justine is.

    Kristine, I’m glad this post triggered you to comment for the first time. Hope I will read your opinion more regularly in the future. I agree, he was too harsh on JJ. She’s my favorite player to watch, and one of the reasons is her personality.

  4. I really like Jelena Jankovic but the comment is correct. almost first in her concession talk, US open, she brought up her injuries? If she can banish such thoughts from her mind she will win some majors. She has the skills, just needs a little attitude adjustment.

  5. Y do not know what is hapening with this man carlos!! just to remember that they were practising while bombs flew around them, and he say that words for our players, its very shame for him and his opinions!!! MADE IN SERBIA LAND OF HEROES

  6. Carlos is correct and even to kind,J.J. and the rest of the pack inherited the #1 ranking by default,even the Williams sisters stand out because the rest of tour is so weak. Mindless one dimensional Tennis is the game of the day and unfortunately unless
    Justine comes back we will have some of the same
    until another gifted player comes along.

  7. Of course, all those players wouldn’t have had a chance if Justine hadn’t retired, but Carlos was too harsh to some of the players.

  8. Hey Jimmi and Marija ! I’m also a big fan of jeca an agree with you that she has the skills , not only the skills to entertain a crowd ( which is really important too ) but she shows so much talent ! she just needs to be more agressive and , of course , no one is allowed to talk like this about jj , even not justines ex coach .

  9. i think carlos is really like he is commenting and giving his views as a coach view and what he sees… especailly serena and maria they need to stay healthy and stay injury free to dominate the tour… i really respect and agree of what carlos had jsut said

  10. Hi Carlos, I think you are one of the best coach, with Justine Henin, you proved your coaching quality. Your judgements need to be taken into account. Safina needs to believe in her abilities to win a grand slam. She has the game. She must stop calling her coach and focus on what to do next when she is in trouble. That’s my advise for her

  11. I think Carlos was right on the money especially with Jankovic, she gives up too easily in matches. Serena has never fully committed to tennis, Chakvetdze’s results speak for themselves, Maria does not have the consistency to be no.1 anymore. Ivanovic is too inconsistent and I think she is scared of being as good as she can be. I think Petra Kvitova is the next big star to take over women’s tennis. Carlos simply called a spade a spade and good for him. Sometimes what people need to hear is “get your act together or get lost”


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