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Kim Clijsters
Belgium

  • Full name Kim Antonie Lode Clijsters
  • Birth date June 8, 1983
  • Birth place Bilzen
  • Current age 31 years 169 days
  • Style One of the best returners in the game, combines power and accuracy to great effect
Kim Clijsters returns a backhand
Profile

The daughter of professional footballer Lei Clijsters and gymnast Els Vandecaetsbeek, Clijsters was always destined for the sporting arena. She claims she inherited her father's footballer's thighs and her mother's flexibility and was a talented junior player.

From the age of eight, Clijsters was coached by Bart Van Kerckhoven, who saw her potential from an early age. By the age of 11 Clijsters had become national junior champion at the age of 11, and convinced of her talent, van Kerckhoven bet a six-pack of beer that she would become a top-ten player.

She attended Wilrijk tennis school in Antwerp, and enjoyed success on the junior tour, finishing runner-up at Wimbledon in 1998 and winning doubles titles at the French and US Opens. She made her professional debut in 1999, reaching the quarter-finals at Antwerp.

In 2001 Clijsters reached her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros, but lost 1-6, 6-4, 12-10 to Jennifer Capriati, with an epic last set lasting over two hours, the longest third set in a women's French Open final, which saw her move into the top ten for the first time.

In 2003 Clijsters missed out on a place in the final at the Australian Open after failing to capitalise at match point, 6-4 5-2 up against Serena Williams. Williams went on to win 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. Titles in Rome and at Indian Wells helped Clijsters to become the first Belgian to ever become world number one. She also held the dubious honour of being the first woman to top the rankings having never won a Grand Slam title. Clijsters lost to compatriot Justine Henin in the US Open final, and a few weeks later surrendered her number one status to her rival.

After a 2004 season plagued by injury, Clijsters enjoyed her most successful season in 2005, winning eight titles and at last enjoying Grand Slam glory, defeating Mary Pierce in two sets to win the US Open after seeing off Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova on route to the final.

She briefly returned to world number one spot in 2006, but was replaced by Amelie Mauresmo seven weeks later. In May 2007, after losing her opening round match at Warsaw to Julia Vakulenko, Clijsters announced her retirement, citing injuries as her reason for retirement.

However, just 13 months after giving birth to a daughter, Clijsters announced she would be returning to the tour, although she preferred to call it a "second career" rather than a comeback. In her opening tournament in Cincinnati, Clijsters beat world number six Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round, before losing to world number one Dinara Safina in the quarter-finals.

Her spectacular comeback was crowned with a fairytale victory at the US Open in just her third tournament back, becoming the first female wildcard to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Three titles later, Clijsters proved her victory at Flushing Meadows was no fluke, beating Vera Zvonareva in straight sets to defend her title - extending her unbeaten run in New York to 21 matches.

After hinting that 2011 could be her last season on the WTA Tour, Clijsters expanded her repetoire with victory at the Australian Open, denying China's Li Na an historic victory.

Injuries against caused Clijsters problems in 2012 and her she announced her retirement would come at that year's US Open - a tournament she won three times - and her last match came in defeat to Britain's Laura Robson on her beloved Arthur Ashes Stadium.

Career high
In just her third tournament after over two years out of the game, Clijsters beat both Venus and Serena Williams to reach her fourth grand slam final. Just eighteen months after giving birth to her daughter Jada, Clijsters beat Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki 7-5 6-3 to become the first mother since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980 to win a Grand Slam title.

Career low
After an impressive start to the 2004 season, finishing runner-up to Henin at the Australian Open, Clijsters was forced to undergo surgery on a wrist injury to repair a torn tendon. She started the year at number two, but after missing Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open dropped down the rankings, a further injury to her knee saw her drop out of the top 100.

Quotes
"I'm not really playing for the money, I just want to go out there and have fun. I really missed it so much last year."

''She plays the same style of tennis, smiles just as much, and she has a husband and a gorgeous little girl; that's probably the only difference. Still playing great, great tennis.'' Alicia Molik

"You just have to expect that she's going to get every ball back. Running from corner to corner is like a piece of cake for her." Maria Sharapova

Trivia
So unlikely was Clijsters' 2009 US Open victory that her coach Wim Fissette lost his hair. He bet the former world number one that he would shave his head if she won.

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Aug 31, 2012

Kim Clijsters and Bob Bryan celebrate winning a point

Aug 29, 2012

Kim Clijsters congratulates Laura Robson

Aug 27, 2012

Kim Clijsters salutes the crowd

Aug 27, 2012

Kim Clijsters powers into a backhand

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