Clijsters's career ends

2012-09-02 13:22
Kim Clijsters (File)

New York - Kim Clijsters hit her last shot as a professional tennis player into the net, but it's doubtful anyone will remember that.

Smiling right until the end in front of 2,800 buzzing fans on Court 17 at Flushing Meadows, Clijsters officially made her way into retirement on Saturday.

She and mixed doubles partner Bob Bryan fell 6-2, 3-6, 12-10 to Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares in a back-and-forth match filled with clutch shots, loud cheers, four saved match points and - at the end - no tears.

"It's surprising that I kept it dry, I haven't been crying," Clijsters said. "That's just another sign that it's the right choice."

Clijsters, a four-time Grand Slam champion, announced months ago the U.S. Open would be her last tournament. She lost to British teen Laura Robson in singles on Wednesday, snapping a 22-match winning streak at Flushing Meadows, where Clijsters won titles in 2005, 2009 and 2010.

Clijsters and Kirsten Flipkens lost in the first round of women's doubles on Thursday.

The mixed doubles loss pulled down the curtain on the 29-year-old Belgian's career. It came with her husband, Brian Lynch, watching from the stands with their 4-year-old daughter, Jada, in his lap playing with a stuffed animal.

When it was over, security guards worked hard to clear a path from the court to the locker room, as Clijsters was swarmed by TV cameras, autograph seekers and other fans - all trying to grab one more memory from a player whose smile and positive attitude spoke as loudly as her game.

"You can feel the fans," Bryan said. "But the people in the locker room, when they love you and they respect you that much, that's true character. That's what Kim has."

Clijsters said even though she gave it her all for the match, she couldn't feign heartbreak over her latest - and last - loss.

"Do you want me to say I'm shattered that we lost?" she said, in jest, to Bryan.

If she couldn't go out a winner, at least she can say she was part of an entertaining show.

She and Bryan saved four match points in the super-tiebreaker used to decide the match and Clijsters hit the key shots on all those points. The best was a looping crosscourt, backhand lob that nobody could touch. It made the score 10-10 and Clijsters pumped both fists and shouted 'C'mon!'

"I just didn't want to miss or hit a bad shot on match point and let that be my last professional point ever," she said. "I wanted to go for it. Luckily, it worked a couple times."

The last shot came on a serve Makarova sliced into her body. Clijsters couldn't handle it. The crowd groaned. Then cheered while Clijsters and Bryan hugged.

"Life goes on," Clijsters said in an on-court interview. "I'm getting older. I've had a few injuries. It doesn't mean I don't love the sport. That's one of the reasons I wanted to come out here and play mixed."

Bryan, who has 11 Grand Slam doubles titles with his brother, Mike, said regardless of whether they get No. 12 next weekend, the chance to play with Clijsters is "really is the highlight of the tournament."

Soares agreed. He and Makarova have combined to oust Clijsters, both Bryan brothers and Lisa Raymond, who has 11 Grand Slam doubles titles to her name, on back-to-back nights.

"But to be honest, it came to a moment where winning or losing was just a small part of the whole thing tonight," Soares said. "It was just so nice, so fulfilling to be playing that match. I was happy either way."

Clijsters was, too.

"I had a great night," she said. "And I couldn't have asked for a better way to finish here."

Read more on:    us open  |  kim clijsters  |  tennis

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Which is your favourite Grand Slam of the year?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.