This woman! Kim Clijsters has won four Grand Slams (three after becoming a mother), occupied the No.1 ranking in both singles and doubles, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame two years ago — now, as a 36-year-old mother of three and seven years after her second retirement, the Belgian is announcing a return to the WTA tour! Talk about setting the bar high!
— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) September 12, 2019
Chatting with the WTA Insider, Clijsters said that her main motivator was the love for tennis:
The love for the sport is obviously still there. But the question still is, am I capable of bringing it to a level where I would like it to be at and where I want it to be at before I want to play at a high level of one of the best women’s sports in the world.
I don’t feel like I need to prove anything, but I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon. This is where I’m saying OK, let’s try this.
Now that her youngest child is almost three years old and set to start nursery, Clijsters has more time for herself and the idea of resuming her career seems like a good option, but she won’t rush a return in January 2020 if she doesn’t feel ready:
We can talk about the start of 2020 and see where can we get a wildcard, but if I feel in December that I’m not even near to where I want to be, then I’m not going to go just for the sake of going somewhere. I want to feel like I’m getting to where I want to be.
Being a busy mom, Clijsters is able to consider a comeback because her illustrated career allows her to rely on wildcards and enjoy a more relaxed schedule:
That’s the great thing about the system that I didn’t know existed. The fact that when you’ve been No.1, you’ve won a Grand Slam, and you want to come back then you can ask for wildcards. Starting off, you’re not restricted to certain tournaments that you have to play. That’s definitely a bonus, to hear that I don’t have to play a set number of tournaments a year.
At the moment, Clijsters is focusing on rebuilding her fitness, while tennis practice will come later on. So far, she has improved her strength, flexibility and reaction time, which she said was non-existent.
Clijsters started playing professionally in 1997 and six years later ascended to the No.1 ranking. With the 2005 US Open title to her name, the Belgian shocked the world by announcing retirement at the young age of 23 in 2007 to enjoy a peaceful life with friends and family. She got married to Brian Lynch two months later and gave birth to her first child, daughter Jada Elle, in February 2008.
Just two years after quitting tennis, Clijsters was back on the circuit and what a comeback it was — playing just the third tournament since her return, Clijsters won the 2009 US Open as an unranked wildcard and defended her title a year later. What’s more, she also won the 2011 Australian Open and rose to No.1 singles ranking the following month. After retiring for the second time in late 2012, Clijsters gave birth to sons Jack Leon Lynch and Blake Richard Lynch, parallel to running her tennis academy in Belgium and working for Eurosport as a commentator.
Let’s do this, Kim!