Former world No. 1 Kim Clijsters has thanked Wimbledon for reigniting her passion to play and enticing her out of retirement.
The Belgian, who retired in May 2007, said it was the call from the All England Club to play in Sunday’s Centre Court Celebration that stoked her competitive spirit.
“I have to thank Wimbledon for asking me to come and play here,” she told journalists ahead of her singles and mixed doubles matches on Sunday.
The 2005 US Open champion said: “I started preparing myself [last year]. I didn’t play, I didn’t hit a lot of balls, and I really wanted to get in better shape and a few weeks into training and working hard I got the hunger back.”
Clijsters joined Tim Henman and Andre Agassi at a pre-match press conference at the All England Club, ahead of the Centre Court Celebration to be staged under the new retractable roof on Sunday.
“My first few weeks were mainly getting the basic exercises, getting my core and everything back into place after having a baby,” she explained. “In my mind I wanted to play tennis but physically your body doesn’t always follow what you want it to do… Hitting the ball came back pretty quickly. Physically that took a little longer. Everything is going as planned and I am excited about it.”
The Belgian will face seven time Wimbledon single’s title holder Steffi Graf in a one set contest and is looking forward to the showdown.
“It was ten years ago this year that I played her here at my first Wimbledon. I qualified and always admired her very much. I had posters up in my room, so it is very special for me.”