Four-time Grand Slam winner Kim Clijsters has announced her comeback to the women's professional tennis next year. She will step out of retirement for a second time in her life and stage a return in 2020 at the age of 36. She had retired after the 2012 US Open.
"I don't really feel like I want to prove something," Clijsters said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "I think for me it's the challenge."
"I have friends who would say, I want to run the New York Marathon before I turn 50. For me, I still love to play tennis. Whenever I'm at a Grand Slam playing the Legends, if somebody asked me hey, do you want to hit some balls, I'm the first one to be like I'll hit. I'll be the hitting partner for your practice today. I still love playing 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."
Clijsters, mother to three children, had made a shock announcement to retire and start a family in 2007. Prior to that, she had won the 2005 US Open while claiming the top rank in 2003.
She returned to the circuit in 2009 and collected two top-10 wins. In just her third tournament back, the Belgian won the 2009 US Open as an unranked wildcard. On the way to the title, she beat the likes of Venus Williams, Li Na and Caroline Wozniacki. She thus became the first mother to win a major title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.
She won five more titles in 2010 including a successful defence of her title in New York. She added the 2011 Australian Open to her kitty before rising to World No 1 for the first time in five years.
She comes back hoping to add to her 41 career titles including four majors, three WTA Finals titles. She says the idea had been in her mind for the past two years. "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."
— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) September 12, 2019
In order to accommodate her family, Clijsters says she will not be keeping a busy schedule and will remain flexible to accommodate any last-minute needs at home.
"My head has to be clear for me to be able to leave the kids behind and to go to practice or to know that everything is organized at home and that dinner's ready for the next day or whatever it is you know that everything is planned," Clijsters said.
"Our life is so set when it comes to routines that our kids have, whether it's hobbies or schools. That's not going to change, I don't want that to change. I'm just going to be away a little more. If I feel like it's interfering with what's going on with the kids, then I'm not playing. Then I'll wait until it fits.
She has not kept a timeline on when and where she will be making a comeback. The target, for now, is January.
Updated Date: Sep 12, 2019 18:24:12 IST