Kim Clijsters announces comeback, set to join pro circuit next year
Flemish former tennis pro Kim Clijsters has announced that she will come out of retirement at age 36
“For the past seven years, I’ve been a full-time mum,” said Clijsters in English, “and I love it. I really, really do. But I also loved being a professional tennis player. And honestly, I miss that feeling.”
The video was intercut with images of Clijsters, 36, with her family and then winning on the courts. “So what if I tried to do both?” she continued. “Could I be a loving mum to my three kids and be the best tennis player I can be? Let’s do this. Let’s come back one more time.”
It’s not Clijsters’ first comeback. She retired from the game in 2007, but returned two years later after having her first child.
She then stunned the tennis world by winning the US Open as an unranked player. She won again in 2010, becoming the first mother to win the title since 1980.
I’m 36 now and realise that it will not all go quite as smoothly as my 2009 comeback
The following year, she was the first tennis player to ever be ranked number 1 after having given birth. And in 2012, she retired again, age 29.
Since then there have been two additions to the Clijsters-Lynch family (her husband is former pro basketball player Brian Lynch). It is unusual for a tennis player to play professionally again after having one child, let alone three.
Clijsters, who in her career won 41 WTA tournaments and four Grand Slam singles titles, will be, in any case, one of the older players on the circuit. She will join tennis superstar Serena Williams as a mother in the pro circuit as well as in the upper 30s age group.
Currently Serena’s sister Venus is the oldest player in the top 100 WTA ranking at 39. When Clijsters plays her first tournament, she’ll be the third-oldest in women’s tennis.
“I am curious to see how far I can push myself and how much I can achieve,” Clijsters told Sporza, following the announcement. “I’m 36 now and realise that it will not all go quite as smoothly as my 2009 comeback.”
Clijsters is expected to play her first WTA tournaments next year. In the meantime, Flemish production house De Mensen has begun recording the efforts of her comeback. “We plan to tell the story of her transformation, her ups and downs, and the road to her comeback,” said a spokesperson.
Photo: Kim Clijsters pictured during her induction into the US Open’s Court of Champions last month