Brussells, 27 January 2011 | AAP

Former women’s world number one Justine Henin of Belgium retired for the second time on Wednesday, citing an elbow injury that had dogged her since last summer.

“Today, the (medical) examinations are clear and the doctors are agreed that my elbow is too damaged for me to be able continuing with my passion and my job at a high level,” Henin said on her internet site.

Henin, 28, first laid down her racket in May 2008 having won seven Grand Slam singles titles, including four French Open titles, one Australian Open title, and two US Open titles.

On that occasion she said she simply wanted to step back from the professional game having spent 100 weeks as world number one, which was her ranking at the time she first hung up her racket.

Henin returned in Brisbane at the start of last year having rediscovered her appetite for the tour and reached the Australian Open final.

But this season has been a difficult experience as she lost at Melbourne in the third round to Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Entering 2011, Henin had not played a tournament since suffering a career-threatening right elbow injury when losing to Clijsters in the fourth round at Wimbledon in late June.

During the Hopman Cup, prior to Melbourne, Henin, who has won an overall 43 singles titles – including the 2004 Olympic title – admitted there were times when she did not think she would be fit to play this year’s Australian Open.

She added she was suffering pain in the elbow, especially during her service motion.

Even though she impressed at the Hopman Cup she said she had to listen to the doctors.

“After due reflection and following doctors’ advice the time has come to face up to the evidence and accept that this is the definitive end of my career,” she said.

“But it’s hard, very hard, as I came back with such desire.”

After her Australian exit, Henin went straight home to Belgium for tests and bowed to the inevitable.

“This time it’s for good – I am turning an incredible page of my life,” Henin said.

She admitted that she was “going through some difficult moments” having realised ever since Wimbledon that her return to action was likely to be short-lived.

“I did everything I could to get over the injury – (but) I was rarely spared from pain. I have suffered more and more every day these past weeks,” she said.

“Of course I am in shock – I am sad. I had hoped for a different kind of return and a different ending.”

Henin added that her career had been “a wonderful journey.”