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March 19, 2005

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions for your champion.

Q. You were asked yesterday what it would be like if you won the final. What is it like to win a final from 4-Love, Love-40?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, it's amazing. I was sitting, after we shook hands, on the chair and I just couldn't believe it. I was just sitting there looking at my mom and my coach in my box, saying, "You know, this is true." I was looking up at the score board. Yeah, you know, it felt like it's been so long. It's an incredible feeling, you know, after the tough year last year, to be able to have this now and so soon is, yeah, very satisfying.

Q. Can you compare it to any other feeling?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, because I've never been in that situation before.

Q. Any other feeling in life that you had experience-wise?


Q. When you compete, do you always have the theory it's not over until it's over?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yes, definitely. But also even when you're up, you know, I think you have to think like that, and you have to try to stay aggressive. Today as well. I've played a few matches against Lindsay where she can be playing some unbelievable tennis, and she showed that yesterday, as well. Yesterday I think she kept it up for the whole two sets. But, you know, I kept fighting, tried to still in that first set. Tried to turn it around and make sure that I stayed aggressive and didn't really give her any easy points, you know, to just win that set like 6-Love or anything. I just tried to make her work for every shot that she was playing. Yeah, then, if you break her back, she gets a little hesitant and anything can happen.

Q. Between the last tournament here and this one, lots of things have happened in your life. How important is this win for the future of your game?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, you know, I think this event has always been great I think for me. I've always played really good matches here, have a lot of very positive memories out of this one. You know, getting my injury here last year was probably not a great memory, but being able to win it here again, you know, it's been incredible. You know, I got here in the beginning of March, and just all the people. They were so happy to see me. Even when I was practicing, they were always coming out and supporting me at practice even. That's a good feeling to have. You know, it doesn't happen that often that you have the crowd support behind you straightaway from the beginning of the match.

Q. Coming back from an injury layoff like this, did you talk to other players, both in tennis, other sports, and get a sense of how to approach it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I mean, I'm very lucky to have a dad who was into sports as well. He was a soccer player. So he's had a few surgeries and injuries over his career. You know, he's probably the one that stood by me the most and who helped me the most while I was going through tough times. So definitely he was probably -- when you ask the question, he's the first person that comes into my mind. You know, then there's a lot of other people, you know, maybe not as much trying to help me with tennis, but when I didn't have the tennis, tried to help me with doing other things and to help keep my mind off of tennis for a little while. You have friends and family who always stood by yourself when you're not playing well or you're not playing at all. And, you know, that was a very important lesson for me, knowing which people will be by my side when I'm not playing well or when I'm not playing at all.

Q. So what kind of approach did you take in coming back? Full speed? Did you let up at all? Were you tentative, cautious?

KIM CLIJSTERS: You know, I always start with the thought that I have to play my own game. And I think my game is to be aggressive, you know, to go for every shot that I can. You know, I didn't want to start playing again until I knew that I was, you know, a hundred percent right and that I was able to play five matches in a row, six matches in a row if I had to, because otherwise there's no use I think in coming back already because you might get other injuries. So I was feeling confident, but especially after Antwerp, I was feeling good because I played like two, three good matches there. I definitely didn't expect things to go as well as they did here.

Q. In the first set you're down 4-Love, she's at game point again real quick. What was going through your mind? It was really up and down today. What was going through your mind throughout the match?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, like I said before, you know, what goes through your mind is, "What can I do to turn this around again? What is she doing well?" You just have to try to work your way through it and try to, you know, like I said not make too many unforced errors, make her work for each shot that she has to play. You never know what would happen. She missed a few easy like drive volleys. So, yeah, those things can happen in sports, and you just have to believe in yourself. You know, I didn't really focus on the score too much. You know, I knew she was playing well. What I was thinking about is, "How can I sort of get her a little bit off." That's sort what you're trying to focus on, is, "What can I do differently?"

Q. You did about 25 splits out there. Is that the most you've ever done? What makes you do that?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I don't know. That's me, I guess. I don't know how long I've been doing it for. I think it's because I grew up on the clay.

Q. There are a lot of reasons you could have lost this match and felt pretty good. You get into a final, you play well. She plays well early on. Are you surprised at how tough you were mentally to not just leave well enough alone?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I did actually. You know, I was actually staying pretty calm out there, as well. Even when I was down, I was still trying to think clearly and trying to sort of think about the match a little bit at the time, not just try to go quicker. Maybe in the past I was, maybe when I was down, rushing into things a little bit faster than I did now. I think now I'm, I don't know, thinking a little bit more about, "What am I doing wrong? What is she doing well? How can I mix it up?"

Q. You look very match-tough.


Q. You inspire us when you play, but you also inspire us when you talk. You inspire kids in Belgium, Australia, the whole world.


Q. I'm sure there was a time six months ago when you thought your game was done. If you had a minute to tell kids all over the world to be successful in life and on the court, how would you like your legacy remembered?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I think a lot of it depends on your upbringing. My parents have always told me, you know, no matter what happens, you have to try to stay positive. You know, bad things can happen to you, but if you try to stay positive, something positive will come out of it. You know, of course, it's not like I was thinking like that every day. I'm not saying that my mind is just set like that. There were moments where it was hard. And that's good, knowing that you have people around you who see things a little bit differently, you know, try to, yeah, help you through it. You know, I definitely did a lot of things that I didn't have a chance to do when I'm on the road. I was just at home, you know, making a lot of friends at home. I think that actually helped me to keep my mind off of a lot of the problems that I was going through at the time. But now, you know, if I think back, I think I managed it all pretty well. Like I said, I think it's just a matter of, you know, I really believe that everything happens for a reason. There is always something positive that will come out of it.

Q. You proved this week and a little bit in Antwerp that you're a top five player, regardless of ranking. The next goal obviously would be winning a Grand Slam. I was talking to Marc, and he thinks mentally you matured enough during your time off to get yourself in a place to win one. Do you feel that way?

KIM CLIJSTERS: You know, I hope so. Definitely that's something that has always maybe been on my mind when I was not playing, is that there's still so many things that I would like to achieve in tennis. Maybe, you know, that's what the injury happened for, was to make me more mature. But who knows. I know that I'm going to have to work hard, keep working hard, and not because of this victory think, "I'm back." I don't think like that. I'll definitely work hard. Things are not going to be easy. I might lose first round next week. You never know. I just have to try to stay positive. You know, it's a challenge. I want to play those Grand Slams again and I want to be able to play girls like Lindsay out there today in the Grand Slams. They're still the biggest events out there.

Q. What does this say about how deceptive the rankings can be, especially in your case?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I don't know. I think rankings are rankings and they depend -- they definitely depend on results of the year that the player has had. Like I said, I probably didn't have that many results last year, so my ranking is not there. You know, the ranking has never really bothered me. Even now, you know, I'm definitely going to go up a few spots again, which is good. I mean, it helps me. I need wildcards into other tournaments, like I'm playing Warsaw. I'm playing in Warsaw. I need a wildcard into that tournament. Those things are, yeah, maybe a little tough, trying to get into tournaments. But I'm sure hopefully if I keep playing well, that won't be a hassle in the future.

Q. Do you have any doubts about getting a wildcard into Warsaw?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No. They confirmed it (smiling).

Q. With this victory, do you think you've come full circle from last year, from the injury?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I think this definitely helps. You know, it makes you more confident and it makes me -- especially the fact that I was able to play - how many matches, six matches - five or six matches, you know, like in a week and a half time. For me that's the most important thing, that my wrist is holding up well and that I feel fit. I didn't have any problems physically-wise. Even out there today I felt like I was moving well in the end of the third set. So those are all details that are very important to me.

Q. Does winning the title put some of the pain of the struggles you went through last year to the side? Can you sort of move on, feel some inner satisfaction?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It's definitely a very good feeling to have that all the treatments and all the exercises and all that stuff, that that paid off. You know, being patient, you know, trying not to come back too early, which was hard for me, because I want to play, especially at that time. I think it paid off. I think this shows that I made a lot of good decisions out there, as well. I could have come back maybe a little bit earlier. But I waited. I think this is now paying off for a few of the decisions that I made.

Q. What's the latest on the break-in in your hotel room? Please tell us you're not keeping your prize check in your room.


Q. What is the latest with the break-in, and then please tell us you're not going to keep your prize check in your room tonight.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I'm actually going to LA tonight. I won't be staying in that room. No, but as far as I know, the hotel has been very, very supportive. They weren't happy with the break-in at all. It's the first time it happened to me. I've been traveling over like 12 years now, yeah, old hotels and bad hotels, never happened there. This is such a good hotel, you know it happens. But, yeah, it was a little bit of a surprise, especially because it was the morning, a couple hours before I had to play Linetskaya that day. I had to go to the police office, I had to have my fingerprints taken. Never had that done before. It was a new experience.

Q. Did you get your money back?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Not yet, no.

Q. How much was it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Doesn't matter.

Q. Is it safe to say Kim Clijsters is back?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. It's up to you guys. I'm not going to say it.

End of FastScripts….

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