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Kim Clijsters Announces (Another) Return to Tennis


Kim Clijsters, a four-time Grand Slam singles winner, said on Thursday that she would end her second retirement from tennis and attempt to return to the WTA Tour next year.

Clijsters, 36, won the United States Open in 2005, but retired two years later at age 23. At the time, she cited injuries, her pending wedding and her eagerness to turn her attention to a “new life.” She married a former Villanova basketball player, Brian Lynch, and gave birth to a daughter.

But Clijsters returned to the tour in 2009 and had her best run as a pro, winning the U.S. Open twice more, in 2009 and 2010, and the Australian Open in 2011. She then retired again, seemingly for good, at age 29, and had two more children. Since stepping away from the game as a player in 2012, she has worked as a commentator and run a tennis academy.

“Over the years I sometimes played with the idea, but then I was like, ‘No this is impossible,’” Clijsters said on the WTA Insider Podcast. “My life is here at home now and with the three kids, my youngest needs me the most. I couldn’t see that being a part of my life.”

But she said a trip to the Australian Open this year with her family inspired her to think about returning.

“For the past seven years I’ve been a full-time mum. And I love it, I really, really do,” she said in a Twitter video announcing her return. “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 she had set the start of 2020 as the target for her return.

“I feel in December that if 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,” she said. “I want to feel like I’m getting to where I want to be.”

Clijsters was the top-ranked player in the world for a total of 20 weeks in parts of 2003, 2006 and 2011. She also played on Belgium’s winning Fed Cup team in 2001, defeating Elena Dementieva of Russia in the clinching match. She was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017.


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