Former World No. 1 Kim Clijsters says the tournament officials at the Australian Open should seriously consider the air quality issue and that if she were at Melbourne, she would definitely be vocal about the same and talk to the tournament officials about it.
Clijsters was speaking to the media at her academy in Bree on Wednesday when she spoke on a number of wide-ranging issues and also announced that she has hired Fred Hemmes Jr. as her coach for her comeback, which is scheduled for March.
Speaking about the air quality in Melbourne, Clijsters says, "If it's not possible to play in then what's the point? If you can't play and bring good tennis and be fit enough to play two hours, or even the guys 4-5 hours in this environment.
You can't avoid or ignore it. They have delayed matches but it's not going to solve the air quality. On the centre and show courts there is not an issue - they can close the roof and they can have the ventilation on but on the outside courts… you can't play a whole event just on a few show courts that have a roof.
If I would have been there I think I would have been very vocal and at least talk to the board and the tournament directors to try to think about solutions. It's a tough situation to be in. It's something that's out of anyone's control.
It's important that players stay healthy." The Belgian was glad that tennis players and officials have come together to raise funds for those affected by the crisis. "Tennis is a sport that has always come together very well to try and make money for [disasters].
Everybody cares about it, they all love the Australian Open, we just have to make sure that the people stay safe and healthy." The four-time Grand Slam champion says she was motivated to make a comeback to tennis because she enjoyed playing the legends events and always thought that she could still be competitive with the players today, adding that when she got some time with all her kids going to school, she decided to give herself the challenge of trying to get physically fit and perhaps make a comeback.
"Whenever I went to a couple of tournaments, even if I was doing commentating or if I was playing some legends, at the back of my mind at times I still felt I could still be a player - I'm not saying win Grand Slams, but be a player and not be among the legends or not doing commentary - still being competitive.
Then I would come home and be in craziness of the hectic life with kids and be like 'yeah, it's not possible' I thought this will maybe give me some time and maybe I should just see how far my body can go and just go from there.
Maybe this can lead to coming back or playing a few tournaments a year, see how I will react." Clijsters also says that the fact that she did not have to play a set number of tournaments and that she could get as many wild cards as possible as a former World No.
1 and Grand Slam champion helped in her decision, "It very easily could have gone the other way. If they told me I had to play 16 tournaments a year and I have to go here, here and here, I would have said it was impossible to combine it but in this situation I can combine it."
Clijsters also says that she loves watching the talented players of today's generation including Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu, Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff and would certainly like to play against them. "Simona Halep is not a young player but is someone I've never played against - the way she played against Serena [Williams] in that Wimbledon final [last year] was incredible to watch.
Bianca Andreescu - what she did at the US Open [when she beat Williams in the 2019 final]. Naomi Osaka is a player I enjoy watching - not just on the court but her press conferences. [American 15-year-old] Coco Gauff is definitely a girl I have my eyes on, especially in the big events. Fun girls, interesting."