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Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Clijsters to make tennis comeback

Kim Clijsters
Clijsters made the announcement in her home town of Bree on Thursday

Former world number one Kim Clijsters has announced she will return to tennis almost two years after retiring.

The Belgian, who quit tennis in May 2007 to get married and start a family, said she intends to make her professional comeback in early August.

"I intend to play in the US Open and in the tournaments at Cincinnati, my first official tournament back, and Toronto," said the 25-year-old.

Clijsters won her one and only Grand Slam at the US Open in 2005.

She won 34 career titles and was runner-up in four Grand Slam finals, holding the world number one ranking for 19 weeks.

But a series of injuries prompted her to retire aged just 23 in May 2007, with a second-round defeat by qualifier Julia Vakulenko at the J&S Cup proving the final straw

She has since married American basketball player Brian Lynch and gave birth to daughter Jada Elly in February 2008.

Clijsters revealed she is currently undergoing a demanding training regime to get back to match fitness in preparation for her return.

"I have been practising on a regular basis with my training partner Wim Fissette and my physical coach Sam Verslegers, sometimes for as much as six hours a day," she said.

Despite a 22-month hiatus from competitive tennis, world number seven Ana Ivanovic believes Clijsters will not face too many problems readjusting to the women's tour.

"She's still very young and still has many years in her," the Serb told BBC Radio 5 Live. "She can compete, she has a very powerful game and that's the way the game is developing.


"I don't think she will be too far behind. With some hard practice she can be back."

And Venus Williams, who has a 6-4 advantage over Clijsters in their 10-match history, supported Ivanovic's assertions.

"If that's what she wants and as long as it makes her happy. I'm sure she could compete," said the world number six.

BBC tennis correspondent Jonathan Overend said Clijsters will operate on a limited tournament schedule, balancing her playing duties with motherhood, but it should not harm her prospects of returning to the top 10.

"Serena Williams is number one in the world and she is hardly week-in, week-out on the tournament scene," he said.

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