Kim Clijsters biography
Belgian tennis player Kim Clijsters made her professional debut in 1999, at the Women's Tennis Association tour in Belgium. In 2002, she won the Masters. A year later, she earned the world No. 1 ranking, making her the first player to reach the rank without winning a Grand Slam singles title—an honor she would later earn in 2005. She retired in 2007, but made a comeback in August of 2009, when she played Serena Williams. By 2012, Clijsters had become a four-time Grand Slam winner.
Kim Antonie Lode Clijsters was born on June 8, 1983 in Bilzen, Limburg, Belgium. Clijsters was born into an athletic family; her father, Lei, was an international soccer player, and mother Els was a Belgian gymnastics champion. Clijsters began playing tennis at an early age and, by the time she was 6, began competing in the sport.
By 1992, Clijsters had become an accomplished amateur player. Impressed with the young Belgian's athletic abilities, tennis coach Bart Van Kerckhoven decided to coach Clijsters. With Van Kerckhoven's help, the 11-year-old Clijsters won the Belgian Junior Championship in 1994.
At the age of 13, Clijsters decided to hone her game further by attending the Wilrijk tennis school. During her time at Wilrijk, Clijsters left the tutelage of Van Kerckhoven and began training with coach Carl Maes. In 1998, at the age of 15, Clijsters wowed fans with her junior grandslam sucess, becoming the youngest National A champion in history. That same year, she also placed 11th in the Wimbledon junior event, and won the French and U.S. Open doubles titles with partners Jelena Dokic and Eva Dyrberg. Her successes land her at No. 4 in the International Tennis Federation junior doubles world ranking.
Professional Tennis Debut
Clijsters made her professional debut in 1999 at the Women's Tennis Association tour in Antwerp, Belgium. Although she suffers a loss to first seed Sarah Pitkowski, Clijsters makes it to the quarterfinals. That same year, she made it through the main draw at Wimbledon, but lost to Steffi Graf in the fourth round. She also reached the third round of the U.S. Open, losing to Serena Williams.
Clijsters proved to be resilient, however, and rebounded in 2002 by winning the Masters in 2002. In 2003, she won nine singles tournaments and seven doubles titles. Her successes that year earned her the world No. 1 ranking, and she became the first player to reach the rank without winning a Grand Slam singles title—an honor she would finally earn at the 2005 U.S. Open.
Clijsters's career was still on the rise until 2007, when she presented fans with startling news: she was retiring from tennis to become a wife and mother. Her time away from the court presented several highs and lows. In July of 2007, she secretly married American basketball player Brian Lynch. The next year, in February 2008, Clijsters gave birth to a daughter, Jada Ellie. A year later, in January 2009, Clijsters suffered a personal loss when her father, Lei, died of lung cancer.
In March of 2009, Clijsters announced that she would be returning to tennis after receiving wildcards for tournaments in Cincinnati and Toronto tournaments. She also decided to compete in the U.S. Open. On August 10, she officially returned to the game. She lost in the Cincinnati quarterfinals and in the third round of the Toronto tournament, but made headlines when she rose from the ranks to win the U.S. Open.
Serena Williams Controversy
The match, which was against tennis star Serena Williams, ended dramatically in the semifinals when Williams made profane comments to a line judge. The outburst caused a point penalty, losing Williams the game on a technicality. As a result, the 26-year-old Clijsters became the first unseeded and unranked female champion of a Grand Slam title. She also became the first mother to win a major since 1980.
Clijsters is slated to compete in the 2012 Wimbledon Championship. The seedings for the tournament were announced in June of 2012, and for the first time since 2000, Clijsters—now a four-time Grand Slam victor—was designated as an unseeded competitor. Ranked No. 53, Clijsters has dealt with a series of injuries since her U.S. Open win, and competed in only a couple of matches in 2012, prior to Wimbledon. She has not yet made it to the final round at Wimbledon, but competed in the semifinalis twice.
Clijsters has stated in interviews that she plans to retire following the 2012 U.S. Open.