Tennis Mama Kim Clijsters wins US Open
Eighteen months after giving birth to her daughter Jada, Kim Clijsters is back in the tennis circuit, fitter and better. The funny thing is, the Belgian tennis Mama, who used to be the world number 1 and winner of several titles, entered the US Open tournament without a ranking (a real wildcard) after a 2-year hiatus that included marriage (she is married to American basketball star Brian Lynch) and maternity. She is now up from nothing to 19th in WTA rankings, beating Venus and Serena Williams to win the US Open woman’s title.
Mother and Champion?
At the beginning of the year, Clijsters was just a mom of a 1-year old toddler and a has-been tennis star. She decided to come out of retirement and return to the WTA tour in March when she went for an exhibition match in Wimbledon. The 2009 US Open is just Clijsters 3rd tournament since her comeback in August this year.
Clijsters is 26 years old, not that young by tennis’ standards but still young enough to make it back to the top. However, going back to professional tennis after childbirth is not easy. Tell that to the likes of Chris Evert Lloyd and Lindsay Davenport. According to CBC sports, Clijsters is the first mother to win a major title in almost 30 years. The last tennis Mommy to do this was the Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley who won in Wimbledon in 1980.
Clijsters herself was not sure how she could manage things on and off court, including traveling with a baby. With this title, she proved to herself and to the world that it is possible to be a mom and a champion at the same time.
Naptimes and matches
According to Telegraph UK, part of Clijsters’ preparation for her final match was to arrange her daughter’s naptime schedule so the little one could watch her Mommy play. Sounds familiar?
This really paid off because little Jada was in real good spirits and delighted the crowd as she shared the center court (and eventually upstaged) her mom! But tennis Mama didn’t mind. She had 2 trophys – the silver cup and her daughter – and she knew which one was the most precious.
For Clijsters, it’s back to nappy changing, playdates, and naptime schedule till her next major – the Australian Open in early 2010.
Fatherhood and tennis
Fatherhood, on the other hand, never seemed to have stopped male tennis players from pursuing a career. Think of John McEnroe and Andrei Agassi. It definitely wasn’t a hurdle for Roger Federer who became “double” dad to twin girls last July although he lost the US Open finals to the Argentinian Juna Martin del Potro.