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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 January 2007, 13:03 GMT
Clijsters bids farewell to Open
Kim Clijsters
Clijsters will marry in July before retiring at the end of the season
Kim Clijsters ended her final Australian Open with a tinge of regret after going out in the semi-finals.

The Belgian, who retires at the end of the year, was in blistering form early on but played poorly in the last eight and in her defeat to Maria Sharapova.

"I have mixed feelings at the moment. It's kind of not really sinking in yet," said the 23-year-old.

"But I've never been the type of person who thinks it's the end of the world when I lose a match."

Clijsters plans to marry her fiance, American basketball player Brian Lynch, in July before quitting the sport at the end of the season.

The Belgian became a crowd favourite in Melbourne while she was engaged to Australian star Lleyton Hewitt and even after their split, she remained popular.

I don't just love to play tennis, I love to watch tennis

Kim Clijsters

"I have so many great memories from here," said Clijsters, who received two standing ovations after her defeat to Sharapova.

"And all the friends I have made in Australia as well. That to me has been very important, has been a great part of my life, something that will always stay with me."

Clijsters, who reached the final at Melbourne Park in 2003 and four other semi-finals, promised to return as a fan.

"I'll definitely come back," she said.

"I don't just love to play tennis, I love to watch tennis, it's a great sport and in a few years I'll be sitting in the stands with maybe some kids and stuff."

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