Monday, September 14, 2009

In Praise of Kim Clijsters

Add tennis player Kim Clijsters to the list of great people and things to come out of Belgium. She joins a list that includes the late Jacques Brel, Jean "Toots" Thielemans, french fries and, of course, Belgian waffles.

Last night, Clijsters won the U.S. Open Womens' Singles Championship with a straight set victory over Caroline Wozniacki to become the first unseeded and unranked player to win a Grand Slam tournament, man or woman.

Clijsters retired from tennis in 2007 due to injuries. She subsequently gave birth to her first child last year. The former number one ranked women's tennis player announced this spring that she would return to competitive tennis this summer.

In only her third tournament, Clijsters defeated both Venus and Serena Williams. Serena's temper tantrum (which would have made John McEnroe blush) got her disqualified on match point overshadowed Clijster's brilliant performance.

Clijsters, 26, is the only the second woman to have won a major tennis tournament after giving birth. The other was Australian Evonne Googalong at Wimbledon in 1980.

Prior to last night, the only other major Clijsters had won was the U.S. Open back in 2005. In July, prior to her return at Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Clijsters said, “We’ll evaluate things after the U.S. Open and take it from there.”

Somehow I think Clijsters is going to be playing tennis for awhile. Then again perhaps all Clijsters wanted to prove that she could still play with the best of the best and now that she has done so she'll return to full-time motherhood. Again, she'll take it from here. If nothing else she has given people a reason to talk about someone in womens' tennis other than the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova. Clijster's victory has to rank as one of the greatest triumphs in tennis.

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