The first time I watched Kim Clijsters play was when she face Steffi Graf in the fourth round of Wimbledon when she was just 16 years old. Though she lost that match, she impressed with her ferocious groundstrokes and exemplary movement. Over 20 years later, she has piled on four singles and two doubles grand slams, retired twice and had three children. At 36 years old, Clijsters is now back on the comeback trail again. How successful will she be? Only time will tell. But her recent form in the World TeamTennis event where she easily defeated Sloane Stephens, Danielle Collins, and recent Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin shows that she has all the ingredients to reach the top.
As mentioned before, Clijsters’ game is centered around her powerful groundstrokes and incredible court coverage, where she is one of the few women who can slide on a hard court. She is particularly dangerous on the run, where she is able to generate momentum and really unleash on her ground strokes. Clijsters has a solid serve, is brilliant on the return and unlike a lot of women on tour, is comfortable around the net, which is backed by the fact that she has been ranked No. 1 and has won Grand Slams (French Open and Wimbledon) in doubles in the past.
Clijsters’ success at Grand Slam level will largely depend on her conditioning and ability to recover from successive long matches. I think it is fair to say that while the lack of expectations and pressure in her second comeback have emboldened her to become even more aggressive, she has not yet reached peak fitness. Having said that, her movement in the World TeamTennis event was terrific and a key in her victories over her much favored opponents. While I don’t expect her to win the US Open (should it proceed to go ahead), given her recent results, I expect her to be in Grand Slam contention in 2021. Either way, it is going to be amazing to watch this absolute Amazon woman and fan favorite play. I look forward to watching Kim Clijsters compete on the professional tour. It will be one heck of a ride.
Main Photo from Getty.