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Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Sunday, 9 August 2009 13:47 UK

Clijsters ready to make comeback

Elena Dementieva and Kim Clijsters
Clijsters (right) and Elena Dementieva are part of a strong field in Cincinnati

Former world number one Kim Clijsters will return to competitive tennis after two years away when she plays Marion Bartoli in Cincinnati this week.

The Belgian, 26, retired in May 2007 and gave birth to her first child 18 months ago, but announced in March that she was going to make a comeback.

Her first match back will be against Bartoli, who beat Venus Williams to win the Stanford title last week.

"I'm excited," said Clijsters, who will also play Toronto before the US Open.

"I've been practising for a long time now and I am anxious to start. It was really necessary to practice and get back into shape but now I've been there for a while and I want to play matches. I look forward to playing."

I want to take these three tournaments and see: where am I at? What do I need to work on in the off-season?

Kim Clijsters

Clijsters returned to the spotlight in May when she played at Wimbledon alongside Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi and Tim Henman in an exhibition to test the new sliding roof over Centre Court.

But having suffered a series of injuries in the first part of her career, she admitted getting back to the necessary level of fitness for top-class tennis had been a struggle.

"I had still tried to run and to stay in shape but it was nothing compared to what I was like before, when I was playing," she said.

"Just getting my body back into normal shape after having Jada was tough enough and then trying to get back into tennis shape, it takes a long time, you have to take small steps.


"I didn't want to get injured, I did a lot of prevention exercises. My biggest goal was to try and get my core very stable so I can still move the way that I want to on the court."

Her initial schedule does not extend beyond the US Open, which starts on 31 August, but Clijsters is already planning for next season.

"For me personally, it's not something, not yet at least, about the results," she said. "My personal goals are physically trying to learn again what's missing, what's good and what could be better, and just go from there.

"I want to take these three tournaments and see: where am I at? What do I need to work on in the off-season?

"Although I feel good in practice, that doesn't mean it's going to be that way in matches. I want to get a feel for it all over again and re-evaluate my game and my physical condition and go from there."

Clijsters has won 34 singles titles, including the 2005 US Open, and topped the world for 19 weeks in total.

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see also
Bartoli stuns Venus to win title
02 Aug 09 |  Tennis
Stars play under Wimbledon roof
17 May 09 |  Tennis
Clijsters to make tennis comeback
26 Mar 09 |  Tennis
Clijsters married in dawn wedding
13 Jul 07 |  Tennis
Clijsters right to go now - Henin
08 May 07 |  Tennis
Clijsters ends her tennis career
06 May 07 |  Tennis
Clijsters endures sad clay finale
03 May 07 |  Tennis
Clijsters stands firm on retiring
14 Nov 06 |  Tennis
Troubled Clijsters to quit in '07
26 Aug 05 |  Tennis

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