Sept. 12 (UPI) — Retired women’s tennis star Kim Clijsters announced her return to the sport Thursday, after a 7-year hiatus.
Clijsters, 36, announced the comeback on social media. The four-time Grand Slam champion first retired in 2007 before retiring again in 2012. She said she’ll return to the court in 2020.
“What do I really want from life? For the past seven years I have been a full-time mom and I love it. I really really do,” Clijsters said in the social media video. “But I also loved being a professional tennis player. And honestly, I miss that feeling.
“So what if I tried to do both? Could I be a loving mom to my three kids and the best tennis player I can possibly be? Let’s do this. Let’s come back one more time.”
Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wild cards in WTA tournaments but needs to play in three events to get a world ranking.
“Kim Clijsters ranks among the greats of the game and her return to the tour is exciting news for the WTA family and tennis fans around the world,” WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in a news release.
“Driven by her love for the sport, this wonderful champion continues to inspire women and men in all walks of life — and she only adds to the compelling wealth of talent in women’s tennis. I wish Kim all the best in this next chapter of her playing career.”
Clijsters is a former world No. 1. She has 41 career singles titles. She made her WTA debut at 15 in 1999. She was 29 when she played her last competitive matches at the 2012 U.S. Open. Clijsters was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017. She is one of six women to ever simultaneously hold the No. 1 ranking in singles and in doubles.
She regained the No. 1 ranking in 2011, becoming the only mother to hold the spot since computer rankings began in 1975.
Clijsters and former Villanova basketball player Brian Lynch have three children. They married in 2007. Clijsters is one of three players who have won a Grand Slam title during the Open Era while being a mother. Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong Cawley also won the major championships while they were mothers. Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open while she was two months pregnant.