Kim Clijsters: The Resilient Belgian Tennis Legend
Kim Clijsters is one of the most accomplished and well-liked players in tennis history. The Belgian star overcame injuries and adversity throughout her career, winning four Grand Slam singles titles. After originally retiring in 2012, she made a celebrated comeback in 2020 and continues to inspire fans worldwide.
Early Childhood and Junior Career
Clijsters was born in 1983 in Bilzen, Belgium. She grew up in a close tennis family – her father Lei was a professional player and coach. Kim started playing at age 5 and showed talent from a young age.
As a junior, Clijsters won the French Open and Wimbledon doubles titles in 1998. She reached her first WTA final in 1999 as a 15-year-old. Clijsters quickly rose up the ranks and made her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the 2001 French Open.
Ascent to the Top of Tennis
Clijsters broke through to win her first Grand Slam singles title at the 2005 US Open. She defeated legends like Lindsay Davenport and Mary Pierce en route to the title.
This kicked off a period of dominance for Clijsters. She reached the #1 world ranking for the first time later in 2005 after a victory at the WTA Tour Championships.
Clijsters won her first Australian Open title in 2011 and defended the title in 2012 before her initial retirement. She won 41 singles titles overall and earned over $24 million in career prize money.
Family and First Retirement
Clijsters married U.S. basketball player Brian Lynch in 2007. She gave birth to her daughter Jada in 2008 and took time off from tennis.
After a stellar comeback, Clijsters announced her first retirement from tennis in May 2007 at just 29 years old. She cited injuries and her desire to focus on family.
Greatest Career Achievements
Some of Clijsters’ biggest career highlights and records include:
– 4 Grand Slam singles titles (3 US Open, 1 Australian Open)
– Reached world #1 ranking in both singles and doubles
– 18 WTA tournament victories after having her first child (a record)
– Over $24 million in career prize money earnings
– Doubles gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics
Clijsters is admired for her resilient, fighting spirit on court and gracious personality off the court. She was renowned for superb movement and athleticism in her prime.
2020 Comeback and 2023 Outlook
In 2020, Clijsters made a celebrated return to tennis at age 36. She played tournaments in Dubai and Monterrey before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Now 40, Clijsters continues to compete occasionally and chase more history. She lost in the first round of the 2023 Australian Open but said she still enjoys the challenge.
Clijsters plans to play a limited schedule focused on the Grand Slams. Her inspiring perseverance and competitive fire remains strong. Kim Clijsters has solidified her status as an all-time Belgian sports icon and beloved tennis champion.