September 13, 2019

Back in the Game

I almost spit out my wine last night when I saw that Kim Clijsters is planning to come out of retirement.

In a stunning tweet, the one-time world #1 and four-time Major winner, announced the news, saying she misses the feeling she has on court and promised to "see you in 2020."

Her decision certainly got a lot of people -- including Billie Jean King and Andy Roddick -- talking.

And why shouldn't it? At 36 Clijsters wouldn't be the oldest player in the field, but with seven years passed since her last professional match, she's certain to be a bit out of practice. But as she said, she's up for the challenge, and if anyone can do it, it's probably her.

After all, Kim is getting back in action for the second time in her career. She previously retired in 2007, had a baby, returned to tour two years later, won three Grand Slams and reclaimed the #1 spot during her first comeback. Two more kids later, she'll see how much more she can do.

But she comes back to a much different environment. There's a new crop of kids chomping at the bit for glory: Bianca Andreescu and Coco Gauff, sure, but also 18-year old Amanda Anisimova, who made the semis at Roland Garros, and Sofia Kenin, who counts a win over Serena Williams as one of her highlights this year.

And let's talk about Serena -- another testament to working mothers everywhere, the 37-year-old is of course still a force in the game. But she's been unable to clinch a trophy -- Major or otherwise -- since her return in 2018. And she's notched more than a couple losses to that next-generation talent.

Can Clijsters fare better?

Maybe she doesn't have to. The Belgian doesn't have a lot to prove (neither, of course, does Williams). She's already a legend. She's already in the Hall of Fame. She doesn't need to add any more accomplishments to her already-packed resumé.

Clijsters is doing this entirely for herself. And win or lose, her comeback is going to be a success story.

She hasn't officially entered any tournament yet, but she's hoping to make her return in January, if she feels ready for it.

And from the reaction she got since making her announcement, you can be sure there are a lot of people who hope she is.

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