Kim Clijsters at the Media Day in Dubai on February 16, 2020.


Kim Clijsters ready for challenge in Dubai


DUBAI – Kim Clijsters has come out of her seven-year break from competitive match to begin her comeback at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Clijsters has been drawn to face recent Australian Open finalist and former two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza.

“Obviously I was a little curious to see who it (her first opponent) was going to be,” she said on Sunday (February 16).

“I don’t think it really matters in my situation right now. I still feel like I have a lot of things that I want to focus on myself, want to learn, start to get a feel for things again mentally, physically, emotionally, how I’m going to feel when I’m out there. So, yeah, I think that was my main concern or goal, is to get a hang of those kind of situations a little bit without having to worry too much.

“I’ve been practicing well. It’s important to now try to put whatever is going well in practice into a match and see how I will deal with being under pressure, nerves, those kind of things. That’s something that I haven’t done yet,” she said.

For Clijsters, it is a case of once a competitor, always a competitor. And that means although she is now a mother of three her love for the game has never gone away. And that is why she is back on the WTA Tour once more.

“It was a feeling that I had inside, a feeling that I had inside for a little while. Kind of talked to a few people. Once in a while that feeling would go away when I was home with the kids. A couple times it would come back. It got stronger and stronger. I talked to my husband. He was like, ‘Why not?’ I was like, ‘All right. Yeah, why not?’ Why wouldn’t I do it?” she said.

Clijsters said she has enjoyed the challenge of playing tennis. “It’s been with ups and downs. Being 36 years old, you know that’s how it’s been for your whole career,” she said.

The tennis player said she hasn’t felt scared. “So far it’s still a motivation, yeah. There have been moments where I feel like I need to do this better, but it’s never a doubt that I can’t do it anymore. That’s one of the reasons why I also decided to come back, is because that belief somewhat was still there,” she said.

Her expectations? “They’re not result related or ranking related. They’re more individually for myself. It’s getting a feeling of how I want to play out there,” she said.

Clijsters is part of a fascinating draw featuring many of the best players in the world, including fifth-ranked 2019 champion Belinda Bencic. Does she feel she is under pressure to defend her title?

“No, not at all,” she said. “I don’t really get why all of the people think that success and then after playing it’s pressure. For me, it’s not. It’s a privilege. I won here last year, so I can only play great again here. That’s how I see it. I think it’s all about the mentality.”

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships begins with the 20th anniversary celebrations of the WTA event which runs from February 17 to 22, and continues between February 24 to 29 with the ATP tournament.


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