Kim Clijsters

Kim Clijsters is a former Belgian professional tennis player who has played on the WTA Tour since 1997.

Date of Birth: 8 June 1983
Birthplace: Blizen, Belgium
Residence: New Jersey, United States
Height: 5'8" (174 cm)
Weight: 150 lbs (68 kg)
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Turned Pro: 1997

Kim Antonie Lode Clijsters was born on June 8, 1983, in Bilzen, Belgium, to Lei Clijsters and Els Vandecaetsbeek, who were both accomplished athletes. Her mother, Els, was a Belgian national artistic gymnastics champion, while her father, Lei, played football as a defender in the Belgian First Division.

Clijsters was an excellent junior player. She won three junior Grand Slam doubles titles at the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. In addition, she was the runner-up to Katarina Srebotnik at the 1998 Wimbledon junior singles. The Belgian won her first WTA title aged just 16 in September 1999 at the Luxembourg Open, beating Dominique Monami in the final.

That was followed the next year by a first WTA 500 title in Leipzig, prevailing in a thrilling final against Elena Likhovtseva. Clijsters made a bigger breakthrough in 2001. She reached a maiden WTA 1000 final in Indian Wells, losing the final 6-4, 4-6, 2-6 to Serena Williams. That match was particularly notable, as it was the Williams sisters' last match at the event until 2015. They boycotted the tournament due to racial abuse from spectators.

The 2001 French Open was the scene of Clijsters’ first Grand Slam final. Her run to that stage included an epic 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 semifinal triumph against future four-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin. Clijsters then lost another epic match in the final against Jennifer Capriati. The final score was 6-1, 4-6, 10-12.

Clijsters claimed the biggest title at that stage of her career at the 2002 WTA Finals. She achieved this without dropping a set in any of her four matches against Patty Schnyder, Monica Seles, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams. The Belgian won her first two WTA 1000 titles in 2003.

Her maiden triumph was in Indian Wells, overcoming Lindsay Davenport 6-4, 7-5 in the final. The second of these victories was in Rome, where she recovered from a set down in the final against Amelie Mauresmo to secure the trophy. A few weeks later, Clijsters made her second French Open final. She only dropped one set on her way to that stage.

But Henin avenged her semifinal loss from two years ago in the final, claiming her first Roland-Garros title in the process. Clijsters suffered identical Grand Slam heartbreak at the 2003 US Open and 2004 Australian Open. The Belgian progressed to the final of both events without dropping a set.

However, she lost another two Grand Slam finals to Henin. Clijsters managed to take the Australian Open final to a deciding set but could not get over the line. Finally, Clijsters’ fortunes in Grand Slam finals changed at the 2005 US Open. She won tough three-set battles in the quarterfinal against Venus Williams and semifinal against Maria Sharapova to reach the final. It was fifth time lucky at this stage, with Clijsters demolishing Mary Pierce 6-3, 6-1 to obtain her first Grand Slam title.

After losing four Grand Slam semifinals in a row, Clijsters shocked the tennis world by announcing her retirement at the age of 23 in May 2007, before returning to the sport after being given wildcards for the 2009 Canadian Open, Cincinnati Open, and US Open.

She won a few rounds in Canada and Cincinnati, but expectations were still low for her at the US Open. Incredibly, Clijsters claimed her second Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows in 2009. This made her the first unseeded player and the first wildcard to ever win the US Open.

Her groundbreaking run included victories against the Williams sisters and Caroline Wozniacki in the final. Clijsters successfully defended her US Open title the following year. She prevailed 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 in one of the best US Open women’s semifinals ever against Venus Williams, before easily beating Vera Zvonareva.

Clijsters also attained a third WTA Finals title (having won it a second time in 2003) in 2010. The Belgian’s fourth and final Grand Slam title came at the 2011 Australian Open. She dug in to defeat Li Na 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win her only Grand Slam outside of the US Open. Clijsters then retired again after the US Open in 2012.

She briefly attempted another comeback in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic made this difficult. She retired for a final time on 12 April 2022. Clijsters ended her career with four Grand Slams, three WTA Finals victories, seven WTA 1000 titles, and 41 titles in total, making her one of the greatest players of all time.

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