The Reuters global sports blog
Mum’s the word as Clijsters bids to match Goolagong
Kim Clijsters’s return to the WTA Tour during the U.S. hardcourt season later this year will inject more excitement into the unpredictable world of women’s tennis.
Since the retirement of her Belgian compatriot Justine Henin last May, the world number one ranking has changed hands so many times that most fans must be thinking they are suffering from blurred vision.
Serena Williams won the latest round of musical chairs with her victory at the Australian Open, the seventh change at the top of the rankings since last May, but her decision to boycott last week’s event in Indian Wells meant she came close to being toppled by Russia’s Dinara Safina.
While Williams, her sister Venus, Safina, Jelena Jankovic, French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and Olympic gold medallist Elena Dementieva will want to keep their rivals at bay, chances are that Clijsters could soon invade their territory.
The popular Belgian is still only 25 and after taking a two-year hiatus to get married and have a baby, she is eager to make a mark when she returns in August.
Although she has only pencilled in the Cincinnati Open, Toronto Cup and the U.S. Open into her 2009 diary, they are three of the biggest events and she must be confident of doing well if she has chosen such a high-profile comeback.
Recent records have shown that she could do well since Lindsay Davenport remarkably came back just three months after giving birth to her first son in 2007 and won three of her first four tournaments on the WTA Tour.
“I want to return, maybe it had something to do with seeing Davenport doing it as well,” said Clijsters. “I am curious to see if life on tour with a family is possible. I think it is possible. I think I can make it as good for my daughter as it is for me. I think I can be successful.”
If she manages to find the right balance, she could become the first mother to win a singles grand slam title since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980.
PHOTO: Retired tennis player Kim Clijsters of Belgium prepares to receive a serve during an exhibition match at the Fortis Championship in Luxembourg September 23, 2007. Clijsters will give birth to a daughter in January 2008. REUTERS/Charles Caratini