Inspired By Other Moms, Former World No. 1 Tennis Player Returns To The Court
In September 2019, Kim Clijsters, a former world-ranked No. 1 tennis player and multiple Grand Slam champion, announced her return to professional tennis.
“For the past seven years, I’ve been a full-time mom, and I love it. I really, really do. But I also loved being a professional tennis player. And honestly, I miss that feeling. So… what if I tried to do both?” Clijsters said in a video posted to her Twitter account. “Could I be a loving mum to my three kids and the best tennis player I can possibly be?”
Clijsters first retired in 2007 after a series of injuries, but returned in 2009 and became the third player in the Women’s Tennis Association to win a grand slam as a mother. However, Clijsters retired for a second time in 2012, citing difficulties balancing life as a mother and a professional tennis player, in addition to interviews, sponsorships, and other responsibilities as an athlete.
After eight years away from the tour, Clijsters never lost her drive to compete and play tennis at a high level.
“At 36 years old, I feel like I’m too young to be retired and, with so many inspirational athletes and moms competing, I can’t wait to get back onto the match court and see what’s possible after having three children,” Clijsters said in a statement.
The sky is the limit for Clijsters, who posted victories over top players including Sofia Kenin, Sloane Stephens, and Monica Puig within her first few weeks playing World Team Tennis for the New York Empire. Kenin, the reigining Austrailian Open champion at the time, was happy to see Cljisters back on the court despite her own loss.
“I’m truly happy that she came back. It shows that it doesn’t matter what age you’re at, you always can come back and do what you do best,” Kenin told ESPN.
The global pandemic paused Clijsters’s WTA return, but the U.S. Tennis Association extended Cljisters wild card invitation in the U.S. Open.
An abdominal injury kept Clijsters out of the tune-up Western and Southern Open tournament, but she is still eager to return to New York. Cljisters has won three U.S. Open singles titles in her career in 2005, 2009, and 2010, and last played in the 2012 tournament. She knows the environment at Arthur Ashe Stadium will be weird without fans, but looks forward to hopefully seeing them next year.
“I want (fans) to know that I’ll miss them at the Open. And that I still have the same passion for tennis that I had 10 years ago when I was there,” Clijsters told The New York Times. “I’m sure they’ll see that when I’m out on court.”
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