Absence makes the heart grow fonder…
Welcome back Rafa!
I’ve missed you and your crooked game face.
I’ve missed you too, Uncle Toni. Pity your nephew is no Hair God.
Personally, even with the knee injury and all, I still like Rafa’s chances at the US Open. In fact, I like them more now that he’s had some time off to rest.
It’s just a pity that it always takes an injury for him to actually take a rest.
Mentioning absence, look who else is back?
Q. Could you discuss why it is you’re returning at all to tennis with these upcoming events. Is this a test to see whether you might return full-time next year?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Obviously I’ve been training like a professional with my mindset to coming back as a full professional. I’m going to see after the US Open how that whole trip went and just see which things I have to adjust. It’s a new experience for me, as well. I’m travelling with a family. Just being back on tour and everything, it’s going to be completely different than it has been when I was on tour for about 10 or 12 years in the past. So it’s going to be an adjustment for me as well.
I think after the US Open, we’re going to — with my husband, Brian, with Jada, see how things went with my coach, my physio. I think that’s going to be the biggest goal. I think that’s why I chose to start playing, to start my summer off playing these World Team Tennis matches because it’s always been something I’ve been interested in, but never really felt like — you know, being over in Europe, at the French, Wimbledon, the tough summer, I never really felt like it fit into my schedule.
Q. You’ve been away from the game for two years. What part of your game have you really struggled with the most?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, probably the biggest struggle was starting back all over, you know, because I hardly played for two years. I had the baby. I was breast-feeding for about nine months. You know, then with my father’s illness and everything, tennis wasn’t even in my life for a couple of years.
You know, I would hit once in a while with a friend of mine who plays on tour and everything, but not much. Like that’s about it. So for me just to start playing tennis again overall, my strokes were there very quickly. Just physically it was harder because in my mind I know how I wanted to move and I know when I had to run forward or when I had to take a step backwards to hit that shot. My mind and my body weren’t really connecting the same way. I think that was the toughest, was like switching that button in your head and saying, Look, after a week of training, you’re not going to be the same tennis player as when you ended your first career.
I really had to tell myself that I had to, yeah, start from zero and take it one step at a time and try not to look too far ahead, try not to look at the negative things that are bothering you, things that you couldn’t do like I did them before. So that was probably the biggest change that I felt
But luckily now it feels like it never happened. Now I feel like I’m back in good shape. But I had good people around me who really would push me but also make sure that I wasn’t overdoing it.
Q. Heading into your first pro match, is the feeling excitement or nerves? You were practicing for so long. Is it like, It’s finally here, I can’t wait?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think both. The excitement is something I look forward to and that I feel already now. I really can’t wait for Monday when we start traveling to St. Louis. To be back in that whole atmosphere I think is something that I look forward to.
Obviously I’m sure I’m going to be nervous, but I’m also very excited about playing under the World TeamTennis rules. It’s something that I’ve never done. It’s obviously going to be a little bit of a challenge I think because I’ve been playing tennis for, I don’t know, almost 20 years. The rules have never really changed. Maybe a couple here and there, but the scoring has always been the same. That’s something that I look forward to, as well. It’s fun I think to mix it up like that. It’s something I look forward to.
It’s probably also going to be my first, yeah, interaction I think with fans again here in the States. I’ve played at Wimbledon. I played in Rosmalen, in Holland, where there were a lot of Belgian fans. But over here in the States, this is going to be the first time.
Yeah, it’s going to be interesting. I look forward to it, just seeing a lot of the people again that were following me when I was still playing a few years ago.
Wasn’t a huge Clijsters fan the first time round, but you know what they say about absence.
Kim Clijsters will start her comeback at WTT this week. Maria Sharapova is also due to play on Wednesday.
So I guess I’m following WTT now?
It’s one of the few tennis tournaments that I just don’t get though. What the hell is the point of it? And why do they try so hard?
Image Credit: JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images