What does Kim Clijsters’ US Open win mean for tennis?

Walk into the All England Club offices and the first picture you see hanging on the wall is from this year’s Centre Court Celebration where Kim Clijsters is standing at the net watching her doubles partner Tim Henman play a forehand volley against Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. In the 119 days since that photo was taken, Clijsters made a return to professional tennis and became the first mother to win a Grand Slam since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980.

The Belgian beat five of the top 18 players in the world to become the first unseeded player to win the Open when she defeated No. 9 seed Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 6-3 on Sunday night. In less than a year, Clijsters has gone from not thinking about tennis to winning one of the sport’s greatest prizes.

“It was literally only until the start of this year where – it’s not that I thought like, I’ll never play tennis again. I just didn’t think about it. I just didn’t think it – you know, looked at it as an option for me,” she said in her post-final press conference. “I just, you know, yeah, because there were so many things going on with the wedding and I was pregnant and I was breastfeeding and everything. So you don’t get into the whole training routine or anything until at the start of this year when I got the invitation to Wimbledon again.

“I think that’s how, yeah, how it all started and how I got that competitiveness back, I think, to just not just want to go play exhibitions here and there and just to do this serious tournaments and just to see if I can, you know, just really challenge myself, I think, was the biggest thing.”

The Clijsters’ victory, and the Serena Williams explosion in their semi-final, has put women’s tennis on the backpage again and shown that the men’s game does not have a monopoly on drama and intriguing storylines. But what could Clijsters’ win mean in the long-term? Here are some thoughts:

  • More speculation that the other retired Belgian, Justine Henin, could make a return to the sport. The former world No.1, who retired before the French Open and Wimbledon last year, would have noted her compatriot’s success and seems to be wavering on the question of a return.
  • The WTA will pitch an advertising campaign at mothers based around Clijsters. Mothers are a golden demographic and Clijsters could be the golden selling point for the WTA.
  • More players combining parenthood plus their careers. If Kim and Roger can do it, why can’t others?

What do you think Kim Clijster’s win will mean for tennis?

11 Comments

  1. awdean
    Posted 14 September, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    It helps elevate the women’s game significantly. Clijsters, Wozniacki, Oudin, a healthy Sharapova and a return by Henin could make the women’s game something really special again.

  2. elainesnowden
    Posted 14 September, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    It’s great, but honestly I’m still laughing at the last point in that article. I’m sorry but ‘If Kim and Roger can do it, why can’t others?’ is funny. I mean yes Roger became a Dad but he didn’t go through the physical changes that Kim did, she was actually pregnant. It’s much more significant for Kim to come back after having a child in my opinion.

  3. rgurza
    Posted 14 September, 2009 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Ha! Thank you elainesnowden ~ as a woman, I immediately had the same reaction as you did to the Kim and Roger comparison! I laughed out loud as well! Still, glad to see both Kim and Roger out there doing wonderfully!

  4. blissbait
    Posted 14 September, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    The Universe forgot to put even one sports bone in my body, so all I can say is Thank You for your words, and:

    May All Beings Be Happy.

  5. Posted 14 September, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I loved Kims win. Well done. i think it will be great for the womens game, and would love Henin to come back too.
    The real story of the US Open though was Serena’s terrible behaviour that deserves to be very harshly punished. Behaviour like that pushes the sport backwards.

  6. Posted 14 September, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Amazing return from Clijsters! I think she is the only true top class female player around at the moment along with the Williams sister.

  7. Posted 18 September, 2009 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    I hope Henin returns after seeing what Clijsters did! Henin was an amazing player and a thing of beauty to watch. I hope it inspires other retired women to come back (though I don’t think that Sabatini or Graff would make a comeback)….

  8. Rafa's Girl
    Posted 23 October, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s really great as she is such a great person and really deserves her success. I am so pleased for her.

    Justine can take a lot of heart from Kim in knowing that although she has been away from the tennis circuit for a little while, she, like Kim can still come back and win.
    Well Done Kim, Come On Justine, you too can do the same

  9. Posted 10 December, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I have been follow Kim’s Tennis career for years now and for her to get the win in the US on the clay court circuit is a superb achievement.

  10. Posted 2 February, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    This was one of the greatest matches I’ve ever seen, she played really well. It’s good to see Kim finally fulfilling her potential.

  11. Posted 23 September, 2010 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    All I can say is that she’s amazing. It’s hard to be separated from your baby and I’m pretty sure her training did just that.


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