Henin walks off court for the last time after defeat in the Australian Open third round last week [GALLO/GETTY] 

Former women's world number one Justine Henin of Belgium has announced her retirement from tennis for the second time a year after making her comeback.

Henin, who was knocked out of the Australian Open last week, cited an elbow injury that had dogged her since last summer.

"Today, the 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 website on Wednesday.

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.

Henin returned in Brisbane at the start of last year having rediscovered her appetite for the tour and reached the Australian Open 2010 final.

Difficult experience

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 compatriot Kim Clijsters in the fourth round at Wimbledon in late June.

During the Hopman Cup before 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.

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.

"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.

Source: AFP