It might come as a surprise to tennis fans that the player who may invigorate the slumping women’s tennis tour (discounting the Williams sisters) may not be a flashy, grunting teenager, but instead, a veteran 26-year-old mother. Kim Clijsters, the 2005 United States Open champion and former world No. 1, will make her return to the W.T.A. next month at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati.
Clijsters has been slowly warming herself up for the summer hard courts of America since announcing that she was coming out of retirement in late March of this year. She played a Wimbledon exhibition in May against Steffi Graf, then handily beat Michaella Krajicek, a former top 30 player, in another exhibition last month. This month, Clijsters will return to American soil on the World TeamTennis stage, playing for the St. Louis Aces. In the spring of 2007, Clijsters retired at 23 after winning one major, 34 tour titles and holding the top ranking for 19 weeks. She cited boredom, injuries and the desire to start a family as reasons for stepping away from the game.