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Kim Clijsters

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When it comes to likable players, Kim Clijsters takes the cake

On its Web site, the WTA Tour is inviting those who tap into it to identify what they regard as Kim Clijsters' ranking accomplishment. The choices:

- 2005 U.S. Open.

- World No. 1.

- WTA Tour championships.

- 2005 comeback.

Give me "None of the above." My "X" would go into a box for "Greatest person." Clijsters had a quality that Louie Kelcher had when he was playing for the Chargers. She was lovable. Tennis, as confrontational as it is, tends to make those who engage in it at its highest level snippy, shall we say, but through her career, which was too short, Clijsters was never anything but gracious.

I am thinking of one time a year or two ago when the Belgian woman was competing in an event at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and in the press room they had a cake for her. She had arrived at a milestone in her career, precisely what it was I don't recall. She had many of them. She cut the cake and shared it with those in the room, after which I had to excuse myself, probably to look in on a match.

About 20 minutes later, I returned. Standing outside the press room, passing out slices of the cake to persons from the crowd, was Clijsters. How nice. How like her. May she go happily into her new life away from a game that was enriched for having her in it.

"I hope people won't be too sad now that I've decided to stop playing tennis," she said of her decision to step away from tennis at the age of 23. "A new chapter in my life is about to begin and I hope I'll be seeing everyone somewhere down the line. Remember, whatever you do, do it with a smile on your face."

Watching Clijsters, I gained the feeling that she could have been a champion in just about any sport. She had extremely strong legs, which were at the source of the success she had. She could go wide for a shot, very wide, wider than any of her peers, doing the splits to make a return, and her legs would propel her back into position to continue the point.

If anything, she was too athletic. How she played taxed her. Injuries, to her shoulder, to her wrist, to her hip, made beginning her days a trial for her and she decided that she had had enough of competing.

"With injuries that wouldn't go away and life after tennis drawing nearer, it became harder to push myself," she admitted.

Clijsters is not going to be remembered as one of the greatest of the women tourists, nor should she be. She played in 21 Grand Slam events before she won one, the U.S. Open in 2005. She would not win another. She never was as much as a finalist at Wimbledon. But she was a champion in so many ways.

Without Clijsters and without Lindsay Davenport, another player of the highest personal qualities, one has to look hard, it seems here, to find someone in women's tennis to like. Justine Henin, the current No. 1, does nothing to endear herself to the tennis community, refusing to adorn herself in any way and competing so fiercely that her zest for battle at times can be interpreted as gamesmanship.

Maria Sharapova has a queenly presence about her that can be off-putting. Amelie Mauresmo in her dealings with the media comes across as the most genuine of persons, but her on-the-court demeanor is too businesslike and devoid of emotions for her to touch audiences. The Williams sisters are greatly gifted, but it is difficult to develop an attachment to players who absent themselves from tennis in the degree they do.

One player I enjoy is the chatty Svetlana Kuznetsova. A real person, to my mind. Just like Kim Clijsters.

Lleyton: Clijsters knows best

 

LLEYTON Hewitt yesterday sympathised with the early end to the tennis career of former fiancee, 24-year-old Belgian Kim Clijsters.

Hewitt said the soon-to-be-married Clijsters knew how to make up her own mind.

"She knows her body best. Very rarely do you walk on the court feeling 100 per cent. But she's had a great career," Hewitt said.

"I know how many injuries she's had over her whole career. She's had to play through some tough times."

Former world No. 1 Hewitt has also struggled with injuries in recent seasons.

Clijsters announced on her website on Sunday night that she had retired, effective immediately.

She said recurrent injuries, along with preparations for her wedding in July, had made it harder to carry on.

"Kim's so well liked around the world and she's played well in so many tournaments around the world that it would have been nice for her to compete for the rest of the year," Hewitt said. - DPA

Kim ClijstersKim Calls It A Career

ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USAOne of the most popular players to have ever graced the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, Kim Clijsters, announced her retirement on Sunday, May 6, effective immediately. Clijsters' last match was a 76(3) 63 loss to the Ukraine's Julia Vakulenko in the opening round of the J&S Cup in Warsaw, Poland on May 3, 2007.

"I'm extremely proud of what I've achieved in my career," Clijsters said in a message to her fans. "If someone told me nine years ago I would have accomplished all that I did, I would have said you were joking. Tennis has been an amazing journey for me all over the world and I'm very happy to have met the people I did. That's always been the most important to me; forget the trophies and material things, friends are truly the most important. I couldn't have done all I did without the support of my family and coaches who worked with me, and to them I'm truly grateful. I am also thankful to all the encouragement from the fans over the years and the media's support in following my career.

"I couldn't have asked for a better farewell than I got in Antwerp; trying to play after that was proving more difficult. With injuries that wouldn't go away and life after tennis drawing nearer, it became harder to push myself to compete.

"Tennis-wise, winning the US Open and season-ending Championships twice were obvious high points. The matches that I'll never forget were the 1999 US Open match with Serena, when I was 5-3 up in the third. I had such goose bumps it was incredible. I remember playing Amélie in Filderstadt one year, coming from match point down to win, but the tennis we both played that day was amazing.

"I hope people won't be too sad now that I've decided to stop playing tennis. A new chapter in my life is about to begin and I hope I'll see everyone somewhere down the line. Remember, whatever you do, do it with a smile on your face."

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"Kim Clijsters will be remembered as one of the most accomplished and loved players in the history of women's professional tennis," said Sony Ericsson WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott. "No player has been so unanimously popular with fans and fellow players alike. She has been a once-in-a-generation champion. Kim's contribution to popularizing the sport in her native Belgium, as well as globally, is well-known. Athletic and determined on court, Kim has also been a wonderful ambassador for the sport off it and she will be much missed by her legions of fans, fellow players and everyone connected with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour."

Long-time compatriot and rival, world No.1 Justine Henin said, "I have a lot of respect for what she did in her career, as a player and as a person. We've almost grown up together and I think we've helped each other to reach another level because we always pushed each other to play better. I think it's been a good concurrence for us. She's been a great player and it's time for her now to turn the page and do something else in her life and everyone has to respect that. She did a lot for the game, for Belgian tennis for sure, and I think I will have great memories of her that I will keep. It's pretty emotional because we spent a lot of time together when we were younger and we grew up together on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. It's a very special day today."

Close friend Amélie Mauresmo said, "I think she had been thinking about retiring for a while so I'm sure she is really convinced that it's the right decision for her. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and all the players are going to miss her a lot, not only because of the player she was, but the joy she brought everywhere. I wish her the very best in her new life. Personally I always enjoyed our rivalry because it brought the best out in both of us."

Serena Williams reflected, "I wish Kim the best in her life after tennis. She was a great player, a great competitor and an even better person. We had some great matches but I'll miss her more in the locker room than anything else."

Click here to send your own personal tribute message to Kim.

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Clijsters ends her tennis career
 
Former world number one Kim Clijsters has announced her retirement from tennis with immediate effect.

The Belgian, 23, was going to retire at the end of 2007 but brought it forward, saying "the fire had died out".

Clijsters won the US Open in 2005, was runner-up twice at the French Open and once at the Australian Open and also reached two Wimbledon semi-finals.

"It has been more than beautiful but now the rackets will be hung up," Clijsters told her web diary.

The world number four first announced her plan to retire at the end of this season back in 2005, with a series of chronic injuries prompting the decision.

She has been winding down ever since, with her impending marriage to American basketball player Brian Lynch in July the focus.

Money is important, but not the most important thing in my life
Kim Clijsters

Clearly the grind of the 10-month tour has taken its toll.

"Time to marry," she told her website. "Time for children? Time for cooking and playing with my dogs. And particularly a lot of time with my friends and family.

"No more travelling. No more stepping in and out of planes. No more having to read gossip or lies in the papers."

Clijsters' last title came in Sydney in January but she crashed out in the second round of the J&S Cup in Warsaw earlier this week with a straight-sets defeat by qualifier Julia Vakulenko.

She had planned to play at Eastbourne, Wimbledon and tournaments in Luxembourg and Stuttgart in late September and early October.

But the emotional reception she received from her home crowd after losing to Amelie Mauresmo in the Antwerp final in February proved a suitable send-off.

"After the fantastic and moving farewell in Antwerp all good things must come to an end," she said.

 

"The constantly returning injuries, the laborious crawling out of bed in the morning and the time it takes to warm up tired muscles make it all the more difficult to continue."

Clijsters revealed earlier this season she would be playing less as her career wound down, and had announced she would not play at this year's French and US Opens.

She added: "I would have been able to continue for a few months and to take part in the four most lucrative tournaments (three Grand Slams and the Masters).

"Money is important, but not the most important thing in my life. Health and private happiness are so much more important."

Her Belgian rival Justine Henin said she had "a lot of respect" for Clijsters' achievements in her career.

"We've almost grown up together and I think we've helped each other to reach another level because we've pushed each other always to play better," said the world number one.

"She did a lot for the game, for Belgian tennis for sure, and I think I will have great memories of her."

Kim at Aussie Open

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Kim Clijsters ended her final Australian Open with a tinge of regret after going out in the semi-finals.

The Belgian, who retires at the end of the year, was in blistering form early on but played poorly in the last eight and in her defeat to Maria Sharapova.

"I have mixed feelings at the moment. It's kind of not really sinking in yet," said the 23-year-old.

"But I've never been the type of person who thinks it's the end of the world when I lose a match."

Kim in Warsaw

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Kim Clijsters exited the only clay tournament of her farewell season at the first hurdle in the J&S Warsaw Cup.

The defending champion and second seed, who is retiring this year, lost 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 to Ukrainian Julia Vakulenko.



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Kim Retires

 It's hard to believe that KIm has to retire at 24. She has been saying that she must have a family and have babies(lots of them) and money is not that important. WTA should host her retirement party in the near future. She should be showered with awards for her contribution to this sport.
 
 Her athletic play-style was fascinating to watch. Both of her parents were national class sports players and she has invented a new style of tennis with her athleticism. Her last Gland Slam in Merbourne showed that she was still too early to retire.
 
 But it's understandable that she priotize her private life over her tennis career. She can still come back after having babies considering the fact that Hingis is doing pretty well after a couple of years of hiatus. Let's hope that she is making the right decision.