Former No. 1 and four-time Grand Slam winner Kim Clijsters of Belgium has announced that she’s planning a return to tennis next year. In an extended interview with the WTA’s Courtney Nguyen, the 36-year-old mother of three, who retired in 2012, said she wants a “challenge.”
“I don’t really feel like I want to prove something,” Clijsters said. “I think for me it’s the challenge.”
The announcement, made in tandem with the WTA, came with its own hype vid.
Clijsters turned pro in 1997, won her first slam in 2005, and then left tennis in 2007 at the age of 23. Two years later, and after having her daughter Jada who is now 11, Clijsters returned to the tour in 2009. She immediately racked up a couple top-10 wins and then went on to win the 2009 U.S. Open as an unranked wildcard. (In that same tournament, Clijsters was across the net from Serena Williams for the most infamous foot-fault call in history.) In 2012, Clijsters retired again and had two more children, Jack and Blake, who are now 5 and 2, respectively.
Now, after years of playing in Legends tournaments, Clijsters is ready to try and come back to the tour. From the interview:
“For me, I still love to play tennis. Whenever I’m at a Grand Slam playing the Legends, if somebody asked me hey, do you want to hit some balls, I’m the first one to be like I’ll hit. I’ll be the hitting partner for your practice today. I still love playing tennis.
“The love for the sport is obviously still there. But the question still is, am I capable of bringing it to a level where I would like it to be at and where I want it to be at before I want to play at a high level of one of the best women’s sports in the world.”
She’s targeting a January return.