Dubai: Tennis legend Kim Clijsters has chosen the 20th Anniversary celebrations of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships hosting the WTA Tour to begin her eagerly awaited comeback to the game.
The 36-year-old, who surprised the tennis world late last year when she announced an intent to return to tennis seven years after playing her last match at the 2012 US Open, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017. She has never competed in Dubai before, and is thrilled to finally join the stellar cast competing for the trophy.
“I am really excited to be getting back to the match court. I know it’s a special anniversary for the Dubai Duty Free Championships so it’s an honour to be making my return to the game and debut in Dubai at the same time. I can’t wait to return to the game I love and play in front of the fans again - the support and encouragement that I’ve received since the announcement has been overwhelming.”
She joins an incredible line-up that includes 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, sensational newcomer and US Open winner Bianca Andreescu, 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, defending Dubai champion Belinda Bencic and recent Brisbane winner Karolina Pliskova.
“We are delighted to welcome such a great champion here for the first time and are thrilled that Kim Clijsters has chosen to include Dubai in her limited schedule as she seeks to continue her wonderful career,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.
“She is truly one of the greatest players to have graced the game, and she excelled in the often difficult challenge of being not only one of the game’s strongest competitors but in being universally loved and respected by her peers, we wish her every success here.”
Since retiring again in 2012 Clijsters, now a mother of three, has been focused on her family and the Kim Clijsters Academy in Belgium. So why has she decided to join the WTA Tour once again?
"I have friends who would say, I want to run the New York Marathon before I turn 50. For me, I still love to play tennis. Whenever I'm at a Grand Slam playing the legends, if somebody asked me ‘Hey, do you want to hit some balls’, I'm the first one to be like ‘I'll hit. I'll be the hitting partner for your practice today’,” she told wtatennis.com after announcing her comeback.
"The love for the sport is obviously still there. I don't feel like I need to prove anything, but I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon. This is where I'm saying ‘OK, let's try this’."
“It is a great honour for us that Kim Clijsters has chosen to begin the third phase of her career here in Dubai,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “Her decision reflects the very high esteem in which the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is held, and it will be fascinating to see how far she will be able to progress against so many top players who will be helping us celebrate 20 years of WTA tennis.”