Sep/19

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Kim Clijsters To Resume Her Hall of Fame Career

Hall of Fame champion Kim Clijsters wants to compete again.

The 36 year old from Belgium announced this week that she will make a comeback in 2020. Mother to Jada (born in 2008), Jack (2013) and Blake (2016) and husband to former Villanova basketball player Brian Lynch, Clijsters lost her first four major finals but then won her next four.

She won the US Open in 2005 (defeating Mary Pierce 63 61), 2009 (Caro Wozniacki 76 63) and 2010 (Vera Zvonareva 62 61). Her final Grand Slam win was in Australia in 2011 where she beat Li Na 36 63 63.

Clijsters also won two doubles majors – 2003 French Open and Wimbledon with Ai Sugiyama. She also contested the Wimbledon 2000 mixed doubles final with Lleyton Hewitt, losing to Don Johnson and Kim Po 64 76.

Overall, Clijsters won 41 singles titles and 523 singles matches and over $24 million in prize money. In 2003 she was no. 1 ranked in both singles and doubles.

This will be Kim’s second pro comeback. She originally retired at just 24 in 2007 because of injuries.

“Aussie Kim’s” last pro matches were at the 2012 US Open where she defeated Vicky Duval before losing to Laura Robson. In mixed doubles, she and Bob Bryan lost in the second round to eventual champions Bruno Saores and Ekatarina Makarova.

Since her official retirement in 2012, Clijsters and her husband and three children have split time in Bree, Belgium and Belmar, NJ at the Jersey Shore, the hometown of her husband.

She will turn 37 in June of 2020.

Clijsters has a 2-7 career record vs Serena Williams. Williams will turn 38 later this month.

92 comments

  • Dan Markowitz · September 12, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Scoop,

    What a scoop! That’s amazing and a big boon for pro women’s tennis. Clijsters is one of my favorite players of all time and her personality and athletic style of play will be interesting to see how it’s evolved now that she’s 36. I wonder with two children under the age of 7, how much playing and traveling she’ll actually do. I don’t know if her husband does anything but coach hoops locally so maybe he’ll be the stay at home dad. Very interesting. Obviously, she’s been inspired by her heir on the court, Bianca Andreescu.

  • catherine · September 12, 2019 at 11:34 am

    See my comment on thread below.

    Also, guess what – Cahill’s back with Simona. Please – she wins Wimbledon without him so what’s her problem ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 11:47 am

    Halep probably realized she plays her best tennis with Cahill in her ear and at her side. Is Halep too reliant and dependent on Cahill? Don’t ask Billie Jean King. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • catherine · September 12, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    If she is dependent on Cahill to that extent I think it lessens her status as a player. I don’t believe Serena has been dependent on Patrick for a long time, however much he pushes himself.

    Someone asked Angie if she’d be going back to Torben and she said no, definitely not. He has a new life with a new player. You can’t go back, in my view, or very seldom. So we’ll see.

    Re Kim – of course if she does make a success of things imagine the players whose careers will be re-ignited !

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Catherine, I think it’s the other way around, Mouratoglou is totally dependent on riding Serena’s coattails. Just my take.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Maybe Adidas pays the bill so Halep is like free coaching, show me the money.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Shoot, Halep is with Nike! Maybe Nike pays Cahill. It all works out if money comes from a big company vs player pockets.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    Adidas dropped Halep and invested in Muguruza instead. Nike signed Halep.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Clijsters, maybe she wants her kids to see her play pro tennis. I read the piece, and obviously her trainer is like fantastic, employment!

    As for the competition, players should be able to beat Clijsters handily. But we’ve talked a lot about what’s between the ears and in the heart, and Clijsters is a perfect example – her groundstrokes are impeccable, good overhead, and a more than decent strategist (not the greatest, but not mindless – she has the kinstinct).

    Will it be enough? Does anyone care?

    It’s news but… Sharapova’s comeback hasn’t been successful. Sharpie is #135 today. That’s #135 with a huge serve and a big game and a ruthless mentality.

    There have been players whose comebacks have never flown forward. So the Clijsters comeback to me is at best a chance to show her kids that she was a great pro player and reconjure a little of the magic of years past while probably suffering some injuries given her game relied a lot on her mobility.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Nike to pay Cahill? A reason for Halep to bring him back. If it doesn’t come out of Halep pocket she probably doesn’t care about the bill.

  • Hartt · September 12, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Simona has won over $33 million so far. The woman likes to shop but somehow I think she can afford to pay Cahill without any problem.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Hartt, so true. Seles, a mega multi millionaire herself, was a delightful person off court but very different around money. In part because she was responsible for everything, for her parents welfare and everything.

    Surprised Cahill not sought after for other jobs. He’s coached so many elite tennis players.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Seles said in her book Getting A Grip, she lost over $10m because of the stabbing, legal fees, lost endorsement contracts and lost earnings.

  • catherine · September 12, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Simona can pay Cahill, no problem. My view is thay have been in touch throughout 2019 and she’s had this sown up for a while. I feel sorry for her ‘coach’.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    In other coaching news, Osaka has dismissed Jenkins.

  • Jon King · September 12, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Loved Clijsters athleticism back in the day, she was fun to watch. Tough age for a comeback though.

    Never understood why Osaka hired Jenkins as a coach. We used to see the Jenkins brothers at the practice courts with Venus and Serena all the time, they were strictly hitting partners not coaches. The brothers would stick around and hit with some of the kids too, nice guys.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Maybe to learn inside info about Venus and Serena.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Osaka – Jermaine Jenkins: that’s life. I think Osaka has this fire the coach thing down pat. And so soon after the ESPN article on the Jenkins in coaching!

    Note to coach: don’t speak to media if you’re a coach to a number one. Number one is number one and coach is guy with ball hopper. Period.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Coach player is all about comfort level. I guess with Bajiin it was as Scoop said, Bajiin dating an opponent. And with Jermaine Jenkins, can’t imagine it’s not the results side.

    Wertheim suggested after the Bajiin firing that Osaka is likely more business like than anyone knew. With the Scoop Scoop it sounded like Osaka wasn’t going to stand for Bajiin personal issues such as dating an opponent (fine, reasonable enough, and a little troubling for sure).

    I listened to a few podcasts now with Bajiin and yeah, I get that his Twitter profile featured a dude showing off the torso. Not a real good idea if you’re coaching the world’s best player. So the guy has blind spots and forgot who he was working for (alone from that – you rep the player not yourself and even in repping the player you can’t speak for them unless you are Uncle Toni and you have massive leverage!).

    But Jermaine Jenkins didn’t strike me as a publicity guy at all, just a guy trying to do right by the player. But if a player looks at results and it’s obvious they aren’t winning then that player will drop the axe swiftly.

    It will be interesting to see where this goes. At this point is it the player and their happiness that is the issue or is Osaka ruthless? If it’s the latter we can expect Osaka will go at Andreescu and Barty hard in the next few months and claim the throne again.

    But if she goes coach less or tries out a new coach and it doesn’t work again, I think then you got to say Osaka has lost the edge and that it’s on the player.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Btw Bajiin podcast was good. Kind of thought the Tennis dot com podcast hosts both female were flirting with the guy on the most recent podcast, but Bajiin was totally professional and basically said listen, I do everything from reserving courts to laundry to hitting to setting up sessions to coaching to whatever is needed to make life easier for the player including not seeing my relatives.

    Basically Bajiin says he’s dedicated and I don’t think he sounded insincere. Just that the player coach relationship is fickle so when a coach falls out with the player, or vice versa (Lendl, etc) it’s over very fast.

  • Hartt · September 12, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    Andrew, other players probably did approach Cahill, but he wasn’t available. My understanding is that he was helping his teenage son who hoped to get a tennis scholarship. Presumably the son is now in college, so Darren is free to coach a pro player again.

  • Hartt · September 12, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    The coaching thing is where Bianca is lucky to have Tennis Canada behind her. She didn’t even have to find her own coach. Louis Borfiga told Sylvain Bruneau that he would be Bianca’s full-time coach and that was that.

  • jg · September 12, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    I want to see a Henin comeback, I think if Clijsters plays Australia she can give Andrescue a better match than Serena, just what I am seeing in her training. As an aside I would have liked to see Spadea make a comeback, even at challenger level, I just had one of my colleagues watch the Spadea forehand video as she is just getting back to playing, and is having trouble with the forehand. She said what Spadea said is opposite what her pro told her, told her this is the real deal get a new pro. My pro actually says the same thing as Spadea and has impeccable strokes ( had a atp ranking) Dan you should get Cal 1 week with Spadea. ( not all is lost hanging out in SoCal for a week in winter) did you see Noah Rubin is pushing his father as a coach?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Yes, the word is these high profile top players do not like their coach being too media active and self promoty. Why Roddick had enough of Gilbert. But Cahill pulls it off very smoothly. He’s very media active but dedicated to Halep at the same time. He’s been able to become the dominant force of the Halep team where you almost feel Halep defers to him totally. He has that much respect and cred. Their relation is very interesting. Serena and Mouratoglou and Muguruza and Sumyk are totally different in two totally different ways.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    Jenkins was out of his league, he’s a hitting partner. I think he was overwhelmed being with Osaka, he didn’t have much to offer her and it was just a matter of time before she pulled the trigger. With his experience as a hitting part for Serena and Osaka, now he has the foundation to be a solid coach. Let’s see if he has what it takes and if he can help a pro in the future. He seemed like a passive guy, just along for the ride. Intimidated by Osaka and her success and being on the big stage. As if deep down he knew he couldn’t really help her.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    Clijsters will have a successful comeback. She knows what she’s doing. Surely she has been playing and training this summer and hitting with college players and maybe even some pros. She knows where her level is at and she knows she can do this. Don’t think for a second that she rolled out of bed today and decided to comeback without hitting a ball all year.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Scoop, can’t speak for Jenkins the elder. His brother Jarmere was very solid and I hope Serena keeps him on staff. But of course you are right: going from hitting partner of the greats to coaching the greats is a leap – Osaka took a chance on him after firing Bajiin, and hopefully he gets a chance to work with more players and build his coaching skills.

    As for Osaka she did what is recommended all struggling players do – change what’s not working. I still wonder if the issue with Osaka goes beyond her tennis to the player. It was suggested she was a different player – same raw talent but no strategy pre Bajiin (and probably resents having read that in the press). Bajiin would never say that but I think it was accepted that Osaka didn’t mature into being a champion – she became a champ through the work on the court.

    She had more than enough reason to fire Bajiin if like Scoop said Bajiin courted some personal problems in dating Osaka opponents. It’s bad form, even if Bajiin believes he’s given enough of his time and everything to Osaka. It’s a hard job and when a player doesn’t have Gilbert stature e.g. he doesn’t need the player, the coach is pretty dependent on the player.

    I think someone said this about Murray. Murray heard much of what Lendl had said before from other coaches but he didn’t admire them. So when Lendl said it Murray did it.

    I would think, and this is speculating, that Osaka may have been similar. She sees Jenkins and says like Scoop said: he’s good but he’s my hitting partner, even if he’s my coach he’s my hitting partner. She was going to fire anyone that didn’t work out, and this one was easy.

    Given the Osaka game still looks very good, I’d guess the issue isn’t her game at all. Maybe the kinstinct isn’t there or the thirst for the competition. The Sharapova book stuff as Hartt said!

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    Clijsters splits on court…this isn’t happening for her comeback. Federer, Nadal have made concessions to age and Clijsters will have to also.

    Her game would need to rely on a bigger serve and optimal smarts to make any debt from the corner of the draw. Her first round opponents will be seeds if she’s not playing challengers first.

    But hey look, playing on the tour is far and away more exciting than being at home in New Jersey. Given Sharapova is in the 130s ranking now, and her comeback has been a failure for a former #1 (this is unbelievable – did she train at all before the comeback? Yet another instance where if you’re off the tour you’re off the tour), and Sharapova has a less intense game than Clijsters, I’m hard pressed to believe it.

    Another way of saying this: if Clijsters is successful and gets to top 20, this would suggest the women’s tour isn’t as strong at it seems. Watching the US open this year, the WTA looks top to bottom very good – I don’t see as many 6-0 6-0 matches as in past years, a lot of three setters, a lot of variety. The tour looks good.

    If Clijsters gets top fifty to top twenty, I think that shows the WTA really does have way too little strategy. It shouldn’t happen.

    But for Clijsters decision, why not? Her kids get to travel internationally to see their mom play even if it’s a year or less. That’s a worthwhile goal right there and it would inspire them for years.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Clijsters has been practicing. Her old trainer practices with her and she’s well into her routine. I think she’s far from ready, but they have a plan and she has a routine already. My guess would be that they announced because they had to announce or because she wants some support from sponsors or something. Those babolats she used are now old hat.

  • jg · September 12, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    Watching Rubin Eubanks in Cary, itโ€™s relatively late, no crowd noise so you can hear everything, itโ€™s like 2 guys having a slugfest in the local public courts, in The 3rd set

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Bajin was an important influence for her. She knows that deep down. She knows Jenkins isn’t ready for prime time. She knows her best tennis will come with a real coach who knows how to handle help and motivate her. Like Cahill does with Simona.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    My sources say it was Bajin dating the other way player and his overexposure in the media, particularly in Japan. Do you know he did a Japanese book?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    Clijsters sees Serena still at the upper echelon and knows she can do it too, she moves better than Serena.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    Yes, Bajiin said his book is being translated from the Japanese. It’s not available in English!

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    Big Sasha got too big for Osakas britches. But for what he did to turn her ranking from 70 to 1, he deserves all the Accolades he draws. And maybe more. Bajin orchestrated one of the best coaching feats in tennis history, and in a one year span too. Team Naomi will rehire Bajin at some point. He has made it clear he wants to coach her again.

  • Andrew Miller · September 12, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    Rewatching Nadal v Medvedev. Nadal’s grunt is the same as Sharpie, Seles – legal and distracting. And Medvedev played brilliant tennis. As of now he’ll be a player’s player (like Berretini) – someone who players will lose to and wonder what hit them. He has a big job to do – get his fitness in order and figure out how to save his best tennis until he needs it. And schedule well.

    Nadal made it through this match because he’s a better player and prepares better before and during the tournament. Medvedev should read his book, Sampras book, Scoop books, Sharpie books. And work on his fan support so he isn’t isolated at tournaments.

    Nadal has a lot more set plays than I thought.

    Medvedev did one thing great, which was feed a steady ball right down the middle, same thing Budge recommended to McEnroe vs Lendl. When Medvedev went to the forehand of Nadal it got more dicey.

    Medvedev should learn from this.

  • Andrew Miller · September 13, 2019 at 12:04 am

    Osaka is right to reclaim the podium when it comes to her game and her play. She’ll need a good coach that doesn’t talk to the media. Bajiin as Scoop said – even if he says he becomes the poodle of his player, he is always talking about his players. Honestly if I were Mladenovic I’d be like Sasha listen man, stop doing all these interviews!

    What can I say. This guy is a good coach AND he’s a self promoter. I have no doubt he loves coaching but the guy talks a lot.

  • Andrew Miller · September 13, 2019 at 12:15 am

    Maybe, there’s a history of players rehiring coaches. And yes players going back to Pennetta in 2015 have all accomplished feats that haven’t been seen on the women’s tour for a while, namely winning one, two, or three slams. Congrats or something!!!

    In all seriousness we’ve seen way too many examples where players can’t back it up. It’s mostly because something snaps with the players after they reach the pinnacle. Agassi once said there’s an emptiness after winning a slam. it’s a great moment then it’s over, so the player goes back to training to do it again because the only thing better than winning a slam is winning another and another and another.

    I think it’s why Capriati was talking for a while about a comeback. Because there was no substitute for the chance to go for slams as a player.

  • Andrew Miller · September 13, 2019 at 12:17 am

    JG how are you watching the match? Tennis Channel?

  • catherine · September 13, 2019 at 1:37 am

    As I said before here, I saw Klijsters at W’don in the summer at the opening of Court 1 and she didn’t look anywhere near match fit. Maybe that appearance put the idea into her head. So unless she’s done some rigorous training in the meantime I can’t see this comeback happening. She’ll get injured very likely.

    Look no further than Kerber for the consequences of coach shuffling. Result – 3 coaches in 3 years, splitting from Fisette who was the best for her, hiring Schuettler for 8 months then having a caretaker coach now because the DTB don’t want her to have a nervous breakdown in Asia. And Sabalenka splitting from Tursunov practically in mid-match – interested to see where he’ll pop up next. And who Aryna hires. Muguruza is still floating around out there.

  • catherine · September 13, 2019 at 1:47 am

    Ossaka has someone lined up. She doesn’t want to face Andreescu without a big name in her box. So I imagine the ink is already drying on the contract.

    How long will Fissette stay with Vika ? Her day is done in singles. Wim won’t be content with also-ran status.

    Sorry Kim – it’s Clijsters.

  • Andrew Miller · September 13, 2019 at 2:17 am

    If I were the players without coaches, just go to academies and get some concierge coaching. At this rate a ball machine will be an optimal coach given they don’t give compliments or interviews, you can blame them all you want and they’ll take it, they are cheap so money isn’t much of an issue. Or try a new racquet.

    Catherine you make it sound like the players are all emotional basketcases.

  • catherine · September 13, 2019 at 2:37 am

    Andrew – ball machine’s a bit awkward to have travelling with you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Emotional basketcases ? Too true, too true. You should have seen the transcript of Angie’s pc at the USO – it was almost incoherent. Better in China. Dirk Dier’s like home. And Sabalenka ? Don’t go there. She just beat Ostapenko though. And great doubles.

    Can’t recall so much instability in WTA coaching for a long while.

    Simona’s behaviour is a farce. She never wanted or needed another coach this year. Just had Cahill on an ear bud.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 13, 2019 at 6:23 am

    I remember Cahill being very tight lipped when he coached Hewitt and Agassi. Now he’s as visible and vocal as McEnroe but he successfully pulls it off. He does not overshadow Halep. I think Halep likes that Cahill is also like her spokesperson in a sense. He does a darn good job of it too.

  • jg · September 13, 2019 at 7:03 am

    Tennis channel was carrying it, also you can get on live stream on the ATP website, go to the challenger section, they steam all the challenger matches

  • Hartt · September 13, 2019 at 7:35 am

    At least Andreescu shows no sign of splitting with her coach, Sylvain Bruneau. She appreciates how lucky she is to have him. As I said before, initially Bruneau did not even want the position because he enjoyed his job as Fed Cup captain. But Louis Borfiga said that Sylvain was the best coach for Bianca, and I think Bruneau now is happy being her coach.

    Especially for a young player experiencing so many things for the first time, it is important to have stability in her team.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 13, 2019 at 8:53 am

    Maybe Andreescu is the type of rare special talent who makes ANY coach look great? Bruneau is impressive in his interviews and the way Andreescu is playing, he really understands her, but I ask what is his pro experience of playing and previous coaching achievements? Not implying he had to be a great player to maximize Andreescu’s game, not all great coaches were top players. He’s doing something very right. It’s also possible he could be a Johnny on the spot, right place right time kind of guy.

  • Hartt · September 13, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Sylvain Bruneau was not an exceptional player, and started coaching at a young age. He moved through the ranks at Tennis Canada and became a coach, and then the captain, for Canada’s Fed Cup team for many years.

    When Borfiga needed to find a coach for Bianca he and Bruneau worked together in that search. But Borfiga realised that Bruneay was, in fact, the best candidate, and basically told Sylvain he had to take the job. I know you have a lot of respect for Louis Borfiga, so the fact that Louis chose Sylvain speaks volumes about the coach’s ability.

    Both Bianca and Bruneau say they get along very well, are able to joke together, but be serious when it is time to work. She has confidence in him, which has to be crucial for a successful coaching relationship.

  • Andrew Miller · September 13, 2019 at 9:26 am

    No reason to fire a coach when you win a slam. Why Osaka is confusing. The Gilbert firing with Murray was also embarrassing and Gilbert hasn’t had the same steady coaching opportunity since, but he probably doesn’t want it and he’s got the job he wants. Murray didn’t like being treated like a kid. It was the Gilbert press thing, which was going to happen because that’s BG.

    Bajin reminds me of this a little, that he promotes and talks and talks. But from what he says he’s honest about the job and that he says he’s about the player development. But the evidence is clear

    No Bajin, Osaka top 70.
    Bajin, Osaka #1 two slams or one depending on how you count or how Osaka counts.
    No Bajin, Osaka gets lots of press while mailing in results.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 13, 2019 at 9:27 am

    Hartt, thanks I just want to get a better feel for Bruneau, didn’t know anything about him previously. No doubt the union is succeeding in a history making manner. The mystery that remains is what happened to Tauziat and why is she a forgotten figure?

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