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‘I wanted to give it a shot for two years’: Defeated Clijsters on her self-imposed deadline to make it back to the top

The former Grand Slam champion says she will decide if she will play at the Australian Open within the next week

Kim Clijsters (Panoramic) Kim Clijsters of Belgium in action during the first round of the 2021 BNP Paribas Open (Panoramic)

Kim Clijsters was knocked out in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open, losing 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 to Katerina Siniakova – and she revealed in the press conference afterwards that she had given herself two years to make it back to the top of the sport.

Those two years are, however, almost up, and despite some good performances, the Belgian has not yet won a match in this second comeback following retirement.

“When I started this, I wanted to give it a really good shot for two years – those two years will end at the end of this year,” said the 38-year-old. “Obviously COVID kind of changed everything up a little bit, timing-wise. Obviously for a lot of players that wasn’t fun but made it a little tougher also for me. On the other hand I was home, I didn’t have to worry about being away and travelling without the kids or putting them in the bubble with me and those kinds of things.

“When I started it was two years – give myself a chance for two years to see how I can work my way back into a good rhythm and playing the tennis that I would like to play.”

She added that she is heading back home to New Jersey now, but has not yet made any long-term plans, and is unsure whether she will play the Australian Open in January, a tournament for which she would require a wildcard.

“I’ll be flying out tomorrow, day after tomorrow and then kind of re-evaluate, I guess, with my coach and with my fitness coach to see,” she said. “Obviously the options aren’t that wide…The options aren’t that easy and so yeah, just trying to see at this time and you know what works for the family and those kind of things, so I can’t give you like a full clear answer yet. But that will probably be made next week, I would say.”

Kim Clijsters Indian Wells 2021
Kim Clijsters in action in Indian Wells in 2021 – Photo News / Panoramic

Family torn between cheering for her and wanting her home

As a mother of three, her family play a big part in her decision-making – but she laughed that she doesn’t always get the positive messages wishing her good luck before a match from them.

“There’s moments where my son is like, ‘Hey Mom, I want you to lose tomorrow so that means that you can come home,’ or it’s like, ‘Hey mom, we were cheering for you when we saw you on TV, and we want you to win,’ so it changes!” she said. “They don’t get into it like that. My daughter is, she does, Jada [now 13]. She’s a pretty decent basketball player herself and she loves to compete and she’s probably old enough also to see the work that I’m putting in when I’m at home and sees me doing everything when she’s off, or at the weekend she sees me working out and everything, we will do workouts together sometimes. So yeah, she knows the work that I’m putting in to try and grow at this stage as a tennis player and so for her, it’s a little bit different. Her reaction is a little bit different than it is for my two younger ones.”

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