Kim Clijsters: The comeback queen who is proving age is just a number at Indian Wells

Kim Clijsters

The name Kim Clijsters is synonymous with comebacks.

The Belgian star first retired from tennis in 2007 to give birth –– having won a Grand Slam title at the US Open and become the world number one in 2003.

Two years later, Clijsters returned and won a second US Open in just her third tournament back. A year later she defended her title and in 2011 she won the Australian Open, which led to her regaining top spot in the rankings.

Following the 2012 US Open, Clijsters retired again. Along with Margaret Court, she holds the record for most majors won as a mother, having claimed three Grand Slam titles after her return in 2009.

But the Belgian was still not done. Almost eight years later, Clijsters started playing professional tennis again in early 2020. In her first match back, aged 37, she took perennial top 10 player Garbiñe Muguruza to three sets in Dubai.



Luck, however, has not been on Clijsters’ side. Having started her comeback in February, the pandemic hit soon after, bringing an end to all competitive tennis for an extended period.

And when things did resume, the four-time major winner suffered an abdominal injury, which subsequently led to a first-round defeat at the US Open.

Despite this injury setback, Clijsters still refused to call it quits. She had surgery at the end of 2020, before being forced to recover from COVID in January this year.


Now, the 38-year-old is back fully fit and ready to put her all into climbing through the rankings once again.

Last week, Clijsters played in the Chicago Fall Classic –– losing to Hsieh Su-wei in three sets.

While it was a spirited performance from the Belgian and one that suggested she still had the ability to compete, the wait for her first professional win since her return goes on.

This could well come at the Indian Wells Masters this week, where Clijsters has accepted a wildcard. A two-time winner of this tournament in 2003 and 2005, her last appearance in California came in 2011.

She faces world number 53 Kateřina Siniaková in the opening round. The Czech player is a former doubles number one and reached the quarter-finals of the Cleveland Championships back in August.


Siniaková is probably the favourite on paper, but Clijsters will take confidence from her showing against Su-wei as well as her exhibition wins against the likes of Sofia Kenin and Sloane Stephens last year.

And despite all the time she’s spent retired from the game and the obstacles which have impacted her return, who’s to say she can’t mount a successful comeback again?

Serena Williams is still going strong as she approaches 40, as is Roger Federer. Sometimes the old guard just know how to get it done.

Plus, if her last comeback was anything to go by, never, ever, count Kim Clijsters out.

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