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Kim Clijsters, the champion returning to tennis at the age of 36

  • The inspirational story of Kim Clijsters, who is making a return to tennis after more than 7 years.
Aakash Kumar
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 17 Feb 2020, 21:57 IST

Kim Clijsters at this year
Kim Clijsters at this year's Dubai Duty Free

At this year's WTA Tournament in Dubai, something very rare is going to happen. A tennis player is making her return to the pro circuit.

Now it's not uncommon to see tennis players return to tennis after some time off due to injury. But this particular player is returning to tennis after playing her last tournament at the 2012 edition of the US Open.

Yes, Kim Clijsters is making a comeback after being away from the sport for more than seven years. In these seven years, she has given birth two children and competed in a host of exhibition matches. But last year she announced that she would be making a return to the professional tour in 2020, and it turns out that Dubai will be the first stop in her return.

So who exactly is Kim Clijsters? She is a Belgian tennis player who made her debut in 1997 and has won 6 Grand Slams in total (4 in singles and 2 in doubles). She has also been the World No. 1 in both singles and doubles, becoming the first Belgian to attain the No. 1 position.

But what's even more astonishing is that she held the No. 1 position in both singles and doubles simultaneously! In total, she won 41 singles titles and 11 doubles titles on the WTA tour. Among them were 3 WTA Tour Championships (the year ending tournament) titles.

Clijsters with her daughter after winning the US Open in 2010
Clijsters with her daughter after winning the US Open in 2010

Interestingly, Clijsters has retired twice in her career already. She first retired in 2007, due to injury issues and the lack of desire to compete, then got married and had a daughter before returning back to the sport two years later.

After her return, she won her second US Open title, which was just her third tournament back. She was also unranked when she won the title.

But she didn't stop there. She went on to defend the title the next year and then also won the Australian Open in 2011. This led to her becoming the first mother to be ranked World No. 1 by the WTA.

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In her last year on the tour in 2012, Clijsters was again plagued by injuries, resulting in a few subpar performances and eventually leading to her second retirement.

She is currently playing her first match after her return to the tour, against 2-time Grand Slam champion and recent Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza. Needless to say, it will be a tough match for the Belgian, but if she makes the score competitive then it would be like a victory for her.

2020 Australian Open - Day 13
2020 Australian Open - Day 13

Although only time will tell how Clijsters' third innings of her tennis career turns out to be, one thing is sure: whatever happens, her story is going to be one of the most inspirational stories in the sporting world!


Published 17 Feb 2020, 21:57 IST
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