One of the most popular players to have ever graced the WTA Tour, Kim Clijsters, announced her retirement on Sunday, May 6. Clijsters, known as Kim Kong or Kim Possible, is recognized for her deep, powerful, well-placed groundstrokes, as well as her court-wide defense, speed and athleticism.
I'm extremely proud of what I've achieved in my career. If someone told me nine years ago I would have accomplished all that I did, I would have said you were joking. Tennis has been an amazing journey for me all over the world and I'm very happy to have met the people I did. That's always been the most important to me; forget the trophies and material things, friends are truly the most important. I couldn't have done all I did without the support of my family and coaches who worked with me, and to them I'm truly grateful. I am also thankful to all the encouragement from the fans over the years and the media's support in following my career. I couldn't have asked for a better farewell than I got in Antwerp; trying to play after that was proving more difficult. With injuries that wouldn't go away and life after tennis drawing nearer, it became harder to push myself to compete.Tennis-wise, winning the US Open and season-ending Championships twice were obvious high points. The matches that I'll never forget were the 1999 US Open match with Serena, when I was 5-3 up in the third. I had such goose bumps it was incredible. I hope people won't be too sad now that I've decided to stop playing tennis. A new chapter in my life is about to begin and I hope I'll see everyone somewhere down the line. Remember, whatever you do, do it with a smile on your face.
WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott:
Kim Clijsters will be remembered as one of the most accomplished and loved players in the history of women's professional tennis. No player has been so unanimously popular with fans and fellow players alike. She has been a once-in-a-generation champion. Athletic and determined on court, Kim has also been a wonderful ambassador for the sport off it and she will be much missed by her legions of fans, fellow players and everyone connected with the WTA Tour.
I have a lot of respect for what she did in her career, as a player and as a person. We've almost grown up together and I think we've helped each other to reach another level because we always pushed each other to play better. She's been a great player and it's time for her now to turn the page and do something else in her life and everyone has to respect that. She did a lot for the game, for Belgian tennis for sure, and I think I will have great memories of her that I will keep. It's pretty emotional because we spent a lot of time together when we were younger and we grew up together on the WTA Tour. It's a very special day today.
I wish Kim the best in her life after tennis. She was a great player, a great competitor and an even better person. We had some great matches but I'll miss her more in the locker room than anything else.
Highlights of the Brilliant Career:
- Nine seasons as a professional, winner of 34 career singles titles and 11 doubles titles and $14.5-million in career prize money.
- First Belgian to rank No.1 in the world.
- Made Grand Slam debut at 1999 Wimbledon as a qualifier, having just turned 16; won six matches, including a win over No.10 Coetzer, before falling to Graf.
- In 2001, upset world No.1 Hingis en route to the Indian Wells final, reached her first Grand Slam final in Paris before falling to Capriati 16 64 1210.
- In 2003 became the first female athlete to pass $4-million in season earnings.
- Had one of the most impressive comebacks ever in 2005 following a left wrist surgery and with a ranking of No.133, won Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back to re-establish herself as one of the world's best players. Six months later won her first Grand Slam title and reached No.2 in the world.
- Received the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship award from her peers an unprecedented six out of seven years.
- Recipient of Belgian Sportswoman of the year five times; ITF World Champion in 2005; LTWA Ambassador to the Sport Award 2005, WTA Tour Player of the Year award in 2005.
ADIEU...we shall miss you!