Kim Clijsters, a four-time Grand Slam singles champion, will end a seven-year retirement and return to the WTA Tour next year at age 36.
“What do I really want from life?” the Belgian said in a social media video published Thursday. “For the past seven years, I’ve been a full-time mom, and I love it. I really, really do. But I also loved being a professional tennis player. And honestly, I miss that feeling. So … what if I tried to do both? Could I be loving mum to my three kids and the best tennis player I can possibly be? Let’s do this. Let’s come back one more time. See you at 2020.”
Clijsters retired for a second time after the 2012 season.
She and husband Brian Lynch, a former Villanova basketball player, have three children. Daughter Jada was born in 2008, after which Clijsters came out of retirement to win two U.S. Opens and an Australian Open, and sons Jack in 2013 and Blake in 2016.
“What my first kind of goal would be is to get myself to feel where I want to be at, to know that, OK, I feel ready to be able to compete where I’m fit enough to play tough matches,” she said on the WTA Insider podcast. “If I feel in December that I’m not even near where I want to be, then I’m not going to even go for the sake of going somewhere.”
Clijsters is one of three moms to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era, along with Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
She said she “started from scratch” in training to get back in shape and, even if she does return as early as the pre-Australian Open swing in January, could go two or three months between tournaments.
“Still a long road ahead,” she said. “More energy these last six months than the last two years.”
If Clijsters can get into the world top 60 (and perhaps as low as No. 80) by the end of the French Open, she could outright qualify for the Olympics. She could also be an option for a wild card, but Clijsters dismissed the notion if she’s not playing at a certain level.
“I’m not going to the Olympics because I want to be a part of the Olympics,” she said. “If I go to the Olympics, I want to play at a decent level.”