New York, (August 25, 2012)-Kim Clijsters has announced that after the US Open she will end her illustrious career and retire from professional tennis. She is the owner of four grand slams, three of which are US Open titles, making her final tournament in front of the New York crowd even more fitting as she moves on to focus on her family.
This is the second time Clijsters has stepped away from the game, the first time in 2007. She returned in 2009 after the birth of her daughter Jada and went on to win her second US Open title in only her third tournament back on tour. She won the US Open again the following year solidifying what has been a brilliant career that has seen her ranked No.1 in both singles and doubles.
Clijsters has endured a career plagued by injuries and though her 41 WTA titles are the tenth best in women’s tennis history, one has to wonder what might have been had she been able to stay healthier throughout her career.
Yet Clijsters has never been one to ponder on the past and missed opportunities. She has always been popular with the fans and her athleticism and work ethic has long held the respect of her peers. When asked this weekend if another grand slam title would postpone her retirement plans she seemed very certain in her answer. Speaking with reporters on Saturday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, she had this to say about her decision.
“[I knew] here,” she said pointing to her heart. “You feel it and you know it’s right . . . For women, when we retire, I think families become a big part of our lives.”
She plans to go out giving it her all over the next two weeks as she is scheduled to play singles, doubles and mixed doubles. She hasn’t won in over a year and a half so as the No. 23 seed she has her work cut out for her. Though when she won in 2009 she came into the US Open as a wild card after having spent almost two and a half years away from the game. She wasn’t able to defend her title last year due to an abdominal injury but she has proven that she can beat the best in the game when she is healthy.
Her future will hopefully include more children, she has talked about adopting and then working in a tennis academy in her home country of Belgium. Though she came out of retirement before, this feels like the real end to the Clijsters era. At 29 years old her body isn’t holding up and the grind can be tough when you are also trying to raise a daughter.
“What I won’t miss now is cutting myself into different pieces,” she said recently. “I had to choose. Do I want to get better in tennis, or take time with Jada and the family?”
To anyone that is a mom that is probably an easy question to answer. Tennis fans have been spoiled the past few years as she has tried to do both-and successfully. Her return to the game in 2009 added not only two more grand slam titles but also cemented her as one of the best to ever play the game.
“I think for me the most important thing is I’ve always followed my heart. I’ve always done what I felt was right. I’ve always stayed true to who I am.”
There is not much more we can ask from her, except maybe just one more win.