Monday, May 07, 2007

Kim Clijsters retires suddenly--won't play out the year

A couple of years ago, Kim Clijsters said she would retire at the end of 2007, that she had made up her mind and would not change it for any reason. Nevertheless, the tennis talking heads continued to say things like "Clijsters, who is considering retiring in 2007...," and "Clijsters, who is giving some thought to retiring this year... .

Wishful thinking, I suppose. Finally, people got it: Clijsters decided not to play in this year's French Open, and said she would play Wimbledon and maybe play the U.S. Open, which she won in 2005. Then talk turned to her upcoming retirement and her upcoming marriage this summer, and many of us had thoughts of a remarkable send-off at one of the Slams.

But over the weekend, after failing to defend her J&S Cup title in Warsaw, Clijsters announced she was finished. Her body has been so battered by tennis (she was out most of 2004 with a wrist injury so bad, she had to have two surgeries, and was told she might not ever play tennis again) that she has to stretch for an hour when she gets up in the morning. It seemed like all Clijsters could do to make it to the end of the year, and she decided to stop pushing herself.

Though she won only one Grand Slam (she was a finalist in four others), Clijsters' career has been very, very impressive. The extraordinarily athletic woman known for doing the "Clijsters splits" on court leaves the tour with 34 singles titles, 11 doubles titles, and so many other accomplishments that I cannot begin to list them. You can read them here, though, and I recommend that you do. Also, here is a lovely video tribute to Clijsters' U.S. Open win.

Finally, no discussion of Clijsters is complete without mentioning her wonderfully good humor and sportswomanship. Fans, sponsors, members of the media, and other players are all drawn to her. One of my favorite Kim moments occurred during a Grand Slam that was rained out (probably Wimbledon), and--as the court-sweeping crew arrived--there was Kim, decked out in a yellow slicker, sweeping the court. After she won the U.S. Open, she bought everyone in her hometown a beer. At least two songs have been written about her; they sound like drinking songs, and that is fitting for someone who has brought her countrypeople in Belgium so much joy.

I'm certainly going to miss her.



Thanks for the tribute! I don't follow tennis as close as I use to, so thanks for the update. Sounds like a huge loss for sports in general.

By Blogger Roni, at 1:10 PM  

Glad to provide it.

The tour just won't be the same without her.

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