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September 10, 2005

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Kim.

Q. What are you going to do with your $2.2 million?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I don't know. I haven't thought about it, so I have no idea.

Q. Any ideas?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no idea. No. You know, that's not really on my mind at the moment so...

Q. The money aside, there was a great deal of emotion out there, watching you climb the railing, going up to share your first Grand Slam win. Just sort of talk about that, that moment.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, no, that was -- I don't know, I just didn't want to be standing out there by myself, I guess, after the game. And, you know, I just ran. As soon as I looked over to them, you know, I just wanted to, yeah, hug them. So I just decided to run up there. I don't know where I was going, what I was doing. So I just -- luckily, I made it back okay, I made it back safe.

Q. So many successes in your career, but this is your first Grand Slam win. How do you feel?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, it means a lot. I think the feeling is definitely very comparable to my first, you know, championships that I won. You know, especially when you're so young and, you know, winning it then, it was incredible. So this is definitely, you know -- those two, I think, compare. They're very comparable, I think. Especially this one, after the injury, maybe a little bit more, but yeah.

Q. The only time in this match when you were in any even remote trouble was climbing up the metal bannister to get into the box. Your body was stretched out. We were all wondering if you were going to fall until some people started giving you their hand. How close were you to doing something unpleasant up there?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, that was fine. You know, it was -- all the people were helping me, they were all holding my hand. No, I'm sure I was in safe hands out there (smiling).

Q. You've been hearing of your inability to win a Grand Slam for a couple years now. Just talk about the process, going through it, finally doing it and how good it feels to just make the breakthrough.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, you know, I thought, you know -- I knew that -- I think for everything, there's a time and a place, you know, for everything. Maybe it wasn't my time yet, you know, at those -- in those Grand Slams. You know, but especially losing those Grand Slams and, you know, not just the finals but also, you know, losing to Serena in Australia, those definitely motivate you to work harder and to work on a lot of things. I think everything together, you know, it was, you know -- sometimes, of course, I got a little frustrated every time, you know, I got asked in press conferences about, you know -- and I had the idea that the media was making more of it, like a bigger deal of it than I was. I was very motivated and I was, you know, like I said, working hard to try to do it. So, yeah, now you don't have to ask that anymore, but I'm sure you'll find something new to ask (laughing).

Q. You had a difficult year last year, a year where you had lots of changes. Do you think you almost had to go through those changes in order to get to this point?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think so. I mean, if I look back now, I think everything that happened there, uhm, happened for a reason. Maybe that's why I'm sitting here now, you know, with this trophy next to me. I think so, yeah, I definitely think it all worked out very good for me.

Q. Mary said she knew from the very first game this was going to be a very tough match. At what point did you know you were playing well enough that you were likely to walk out of here a winner tonight?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Until I finished that last shot, obviously, you know, you don't want to think ahead. I knew I was feeling the ball well, I was moving well, and I think that's something that I was definitely missing in my previous Grand Slams, is that I didn't really, especially the last three, I didn't feel like I was moving well, at all. My movement, you know -- like, I also feel a lot fitter and I recovered very well after Venus and after Maria's match. But, you know, I think that definitely, you know, my movement was there today, and that's very important for me. If I move well, that's when I'm confident, and that's when I can just sort of let my strokes and my shots go as well.

Q. After beating Justine earlier in the summer and then beating Venus and Maria here, what did you prove out here tonight?

KIM CLIJSTERS: What did I prove? I don't know. You know, I just think that, you know -- I just, yeah, just proved myself, you know, that I can do it and that I'm up there with the best of them. But, you know, like I said, it's all the hard work and everything, that's more satisfying to me, you know; it's paid off. You know, I said that there's been a lot of, you know, very boring weeks when I was injured, when I was in the plasters, you know, trying to recover, and doing all these crazy exercises from starting to move your fingertips to, you know, whatever, just all those. And they're very frustrating. But you just have to be patient. But that's something that, you know, you just can't do all those things yourself; you have to have your family, your friends to help you, to push you, you know, to go for it. It's not just me, it's teamwork, I think.

Q. You said your movement was there this time and was not there the other finals. Do you think it's because you were more prepared or more relaxed than the other finals?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. Physically, I feel stronger, too, than what I was. You know, I've had, you know, some tough matches, especially the last two have been -- the previous ones have been tough. But I never had any, you know -- I was a little bit stiff in my lower back or anything, but nothing really tremendous that would stop me from being able to move as well as I did today. So that's a good feeling to have. And, you know, going out on court, knowing that, is already a big advantage, I think. So, yeah, I think, you know, I've been working a lot on my running and just physically to try to be stronger.

Q. When you dropped your racquet, can you just kind of describe what that feeling was.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I don't know anymore. I just -- I didn't know what I did. I just, yeah. I mean, they asked me straight after the match in a couple of TVs that I did on the court, "What was your first thought?" I'm like, I don't know my first thought anymore. It's pretty bad, actually, because I want to know how it felt, but I can't.

Q. Then knowing what you feel now, is that feeling great enough for you to want to keep playing longer than the two years that you had said...

KIM CLIJSTERS: Two years is still long. You know, it's still -- it's not like I'm quitting, you know -- maybe I should. Maybe I should quit in two weeks or something (smiling). No, I'm just going to, you know, first just go out tonight, have some fun and, you know, I want to go home, too, just spend time with my family and friends and just relax. Because I've had -- I've been really, really focused these last eight weeks or ever since -- after Fed Cup, we won in Belgium, I came to America, was in New Jersey. There, too, I was working hard. It was a little bit more relaxing but still focusing on the hard court season. I think just my whole mindset has been very focused on this whole trip.

Q. Was it nice to be able to grab the microphone and say a few words after having been the silent runner-up for a couple of those ceremonies?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. You know, I just wanted to, you know, thank the people, I think, you know, especially in that kind of situation. You know, I just didn't want to be out there and, you know, not having said anything, you know, also towards Mary, just show a little bit of respect for her. Also for my box, for the people in Belgium, my family in Belgium and everything. I know everybody's been up and, you know, it's the middle of the night. I think they were all watching it. So I just grabbed my chance, I guess (smiling).

Q. Have you spoken to your father? If so, did he think about changing his mind and coming?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, he's at home. He's looking after our five dogs. So that's the deal, you know. If my sister and my mom are here, my dad was there. You know, my mom was looking after the dogs. It's tough, but the dogs are our babies, so, you know, we have to divide all the attention a little bit to them, too.

Q. Who was the first person to call you on your cell?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, my God. I had like, I don't know, 75 messages on my phone when I looked. I was like, "How many people have my number?" I said I didn't even know. I spoke to my dad, I spoke to Brian, yeah, so...

Q. Were they watching together?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I don't know.

Q. Do you have any desire to be a dominant player now? Federer talks a lot about being dominant. He enjoys being dominant. You completely dominated hard court play this year in the U.S. Is that something you'd like to do, get back to No. 1 and be on top of the other players, or do you think you do not have that in your personality and that's not that big of a deal?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Is this the question that's going to be asked of me now (laughing)?

Q. You asked me to come up with another one.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Okay, well, you were quick (smiling). No, you know, obviously, my attitude has always been that way, like I want -- I've always said that, no matter where I play, my next tournament is going to be Luxembourg, and even there my attitude is going to be the same - I'm going to work hard and just out of respect for the tournament, for the people, too. Like I think that's -- and for me. I'm just going to go out there and play my best and give myself 100%. I do that every week. And, you know, obviously sometimes at practice there's days where you don't feel like practicing and you take things a little bit easily, a little bit more easy. But that's my attitude. That won't change after this, no.

Q. Don't you think you're the best player in the world at the moment?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Who thinks that?

Q. You.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. Maybe this tournament, yeah.

Q. More than the tournament. You won everything this summer.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know (smiling).

Q. You talk about retiring in two years. Would you considering...

KIM CLIJSTERS: I like you (smiling). You were the one -- you asked me --

Q. Yesterday, slipping and sliding.

KIM CLIJSTERS: That's right.

Q. Would you consider playing pro soccer? I hear you're a pretty good soccer player (laughter).

KIM CLIJSTERS: Uhm, I don't know. I've never thought about that, so maybe that's a -- you know, you're bringing me new ideas. No, I enjoy playing soccer. I definitely love watching soccer. Women's soccer is not, you know -- definitely in Belgium, it's not such a big sport, but I do love it. I think it's a great game. And, you know, so... yeah.

Q. Would you do it?


Q. Would you play it, pro?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't think so. I don't think so (smiling).

Q. With all the injury problems you had before, how near was it you had to quit playing tennis?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, there were definitely days after, you know, when the doctors say like, you know, "It's going to be very tough for you, maybe not to quit, but to reach that same level again," and, you know, that's very frustrating to hear. In a way, you hear it and it sort of goes in and out because you don't want to keep thinking about, you know, the negative thoughts. So, you know, I think as soon as I heard the news, I saw some other doctors, too, and they were all sort of saying the same kind of thing. But then, you know, like I said, your mind just gets -- you just try to think positive, and that's when your family and your friends and, you know, they're very important in those kind of situations.

Q. Do you consider yourself a different player? I mean not physically, but I mean after that injury and after having to hear that, do you value the sport more? Did you find discipline that you didn't have before?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think all that has definitely, you know, made me I think physically a stronger person, too. I think that's, you know, definitely in the last few matches, the biggest difference that I felt towards the other players is that in the third set against Venus, I felt physically -- I was fine. Against Maria, too. Today out there I recovered well after those two long matches. I think just knowing that, you know, there's a lot of things that I have to do to be able to play the tennis that I've played here over the last few weeks, I know that I have to, you know, just do all those things, you know. I have to do exercises for my wrist still, for my shoulders. Have massages. Just everything. I have to make sure that I do everything. I think in a way that makes me maybe a little bit more prepared, too, knowing that I've done all that so I don't have to, yeah, worry about or think that I didn't give everything that I have.

Q. Just in the spring you hit a certain level and sustained that level, and then you had the injuries and your standards have gone up and down in the early part of the summer. Just wondering, was there a point in the latter part of the summer, hard court season, when you just felt like you had hit that level again where you weren't dropping at all? And how much of that feeling was a function of being relaxed or more prepared in the final this time versus the previous times?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I think when I first -- after my knee and my hip injury, I think the first good feeling that I had on the court was playing Lindsay at Wimbledon. You know, although I lost, I got so many, you know -- I learned a lot out of that match, a lot of positives I took away, although I lost. It was disappointing to lose, but then I went on to play Fed Cup and played well there. Then from the minute that I stepped out in New Jersey on one of the practice courts, I was, you know, I was hitting the ball so well. I think, you know, I was very motivated and ready to go. That's something that I probably never have felt before so quickly, how it could change. And so, you know, I'm sure that the whole preparation, you know, all the tournaments leading up to, you know, the US Open, have definitely been -- have made me stronger and motivated a little bit more, too, I think. Not just in the final, but to play Venus, to play Maria, those tough matches, too.

Q. Outside of mentally, do you think you're just technically a better player than you were in 2004, especially the serve and your forehand?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I definitely feel like -- I mean, I'm sure my forehand has to be a little bit better than it was because I've only been hitting forehands for three months straight when I couldn't hit a backhand. Maybe that was a sign, too, you know, that I had to work on that shot. My serve is something that I've been, you know, definitely have been working on, trying to aim for targets, you know, just do a lot of those things. It helps. It definitely helps. I think the serve more and more, I think in women's tennis, has become a very strong shot. That's something that I think, you know, was missing a little bit, I think, in, you know, 2003, as well. Even though I played well and I won a lot of tournaments, I think that was definitely a part of my game, my forehand and my serve, where I could still work on a lot.

Q. Are you familiar with this photograph in the WTA media guide?


Q. It's really quite a stunning contrast. In this picture is a player who looks very depressed and...

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. Yep, yep. Well, look at my arm.

Q. I'm looking at you now with that trophy in front of you. It's a stunning contrast with what you've done in one year.


Q. If you can reflect back on your accomplishments in this past year.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you know, obviously there, in that picture, I think that was taken at the French Open, where I was in a plaster, I think, up to a little above my elbow, I think. You know, it's hard. You know, I was there to watch Lleyton play, obviously. You know, it's hard sometimes to, you know, to be in that situation, too, you know. I didn't know, you know. A lot of people asking me, a lot of other players showing their support and everything, but in a lot of ways it was also very -- because I didn't know what was going to happen. Everybody was asking me questions. So, yeah, I think that's why, you know, being able to play and, you know, I started in Antwerp, I started my comeback there. It's been amazing. A lot of times, winning Indian Wells, Miami, it's just so, so hard to believe everything that I've done, I think, this year. I think that's, you know, the hard work, again. I think it pays off. It's all, you know, I can say to a lot of people, is there's tough times out there, but try to stay positive and, yeah, just try to, you know, go forward.

Q. Would you have believed at this point that you would be where you are right now?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no. No, not in that picture, no.

Q. Do you still have the cast?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No. That's all gone.

End of FastScripts….

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