Former World No. 1 Kim Clijsters says it was her family that motivated her to make a comeback to tennis. Clijsters had announced her decision to return to the tour after seven years a few months ago and while she was scheduled to make a return in January, an injury she sustained in training has meant that she would now return to the tour in March.
The Belgian, who is a multiple Grand Slam champion, says playing the legends event and commentating at the Australian Open made her want to make a comeback to tennis. "I was playing legends and I loved it. I would like the players to ask me if I'm going to hit them and enjoy them, but I didn't get out of tennis what I wanted and what I felt like I still had in me.
Being in Australia to comment and being so close to the action brought back the passion. I told my husband about it. At the age of 35, I said to myself: “You see Roger, Venus and Serena, maybe I should try it?” The previous year, I was triggered several times, but I returned home and I was so busy with the kids.
After Australia, I said to my trainer:" Do you think it is possible after three children, my body, my age and everything else? "So I said to Jada and Brian and it slowly grew." When Clijsters did play against another former World No.
1 and one of her former rivals on the court, Venus Williams at the opening of the No. 1 court in Wimbledon in May, it was her daughter Jada who told her mom that she had to come back. "She was the one who said to me," Mom, you have to come back.
Jada was impressed by Venus. Before going to the field, we warmed up and Jada stood next to me. She said, "Mom, you look 10 years older than she is." I said, "Really? Thank you, Jada! It was motivation. I said to Venus and she was laughing too.
My children and their schedules will not be affected by my decision to return. I love this balance that I have now. I have this passion for tennis. I love the game, I love what it triggers in me. It’s different now than when I came back with a child.
Now, I think that is something that motivates me, it is a challenge for me. I want to see how far I can go." This is the second time that Clijsters is coming back to the tour as a mother but she knows it would be different this time since her children are a lot older and also she will not be playing as many tournaments as before.
"It's going to be different than before. I won't be playing a lot of tournaments. Kids aren't going to travel as much with me. I'm going to have to choose my tournaments wisely to see what works with kids and with school, exams.
I know that it will last two, three or four years if I can stay healthy and learn more about how my body reacts. I will need to know how long it will take me between tournaments, how much can i play in a row. I have a lot of experience from the past, but this is a very new situation.
" The Belgian does admit that whether coming back to tennis would mean more attention for her family but says she hopes that it will not be a problem for her and her family. "The only thing that worried me was, is it worth being in the spotlight as a family and mother? There were people who gave me a lot of advice on how Roger [Federer] and other athletes with a family managed it.
When I'm here at home, it's not like I do a lot of TV or interviews, I like a normal life. When the news was published, the TV stations went to my children's school. It was at that moment that I said to myself: "Woah, I hope that this will pass fairly quickly and that our lives will remain unchanged" I just want to play tennis and try to do it again at a high level. "