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August 29, 2009

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How does it feel to be back?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's nice. I've been to New York a couple times last couple months with family. Coming to the courts it's obviously a very nice feeling and it brings back a lot of memories, although a lot of things have changed on the site and stuff, but yeah, brings back a lot of memories.

Q. What are the most pleasant memories?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Everything. I remember just walking through the corridors here, walking up to the center court for the finals. Just those things and having to look when it was raining the other day on center court -- yeah, kind of brings you back on that day, kind of.

Q. What have you missed most about tennis while you were gone?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I have to admit I didn't really miss it until the start of this year when I started preparing myself for the Wimbledon exhibition. So I think -- yeah, as I got on with my training, the hunger for the competition and the challenge of trying to get myself back in shape and see if I'm still capable to play with those girls I think was probably the biggest reason.

Q. Were you surprised at how well, how quickly and how well you were able to play coming back and beating some of the people you've beat?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I was surprised when I played Bartoli in Cincinnati my first round. I mean, I just thought I got through that match playing really well. To me, I even was a little surprised out there, just, you know, the way I was playing and moving and seeing the ball.
But then I kind of got the next matches kind of got -- I played some good matches, but then also I think against Safina, my first round in Toronto, they were not as good. I think it's up and down, still something that I have to get through, and it's obviously -- it's been a while, the consistency of -- that was something I had going really well playing in the past and that's something I have to just play build up again.

Q. When did you first start think about coming back? And what was it that put you over the top to come back?
KIM CLIJSTERS: At the start of this year I think it was towards the end of January or something, I got invited to play the exhibition at Wimbledon, and when they told me that I was going to playing doubles with Tim Henman and against Steffi and Andre, I was like, whoa, I have to get in shape for this.
Then yeah, about two or three weeks, you know, into it, like that feeling came up within myself and I kind of just didn't say anything, kind of kept going to practice and worked hard with my coach and my fitness trainer and just went through my daily routines.
And then I just mentioned it to them, and then, you know, we got a few offers to play some more exhibition matches later in the year and stuff, and I'm not able to play exhibitions yet, I wanted to see if I could get myself back and, you know, like I said before just compete with the top girls out there again.

Q. What is your expectation? I mean, are you doing this to try and get back to being the best tennis player in the world or kind of seeing what happens and have fun?
KIM CLIJSTERS: This is definitely not something -- when you've been up there, you know, I'm not going to be here and go on holidays wherever I go and just try and have some fun and spend time with the family, no, that's not -- the reason that's a part of it, but like I said before, when you've been up there, that's something that you've experienced, those emotions and feelings and playing those big matches, that's what you do it for. So yeah, I think the big matches is something you definitely do it for.

Q. When you first mentioned it to your family and your husband that this you were thinking of doing this, were they like, why?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No. Yeah, no, Brian was definitely -- he was excited. I mean, he never really got to see me play that much, because he was still, you know, playing a lot.
Obviously Jada was at a stage where she couldn't stay too many words yet. She didn't have much to say there. No, it wasn't something, okay, from one day to another. Like we spoke about it a lot, and then gradually, yeah, we, you know, kind of put the pros and the cons against each other and just, see, look, we're going to give it a shot. This is not something I'm going to doing for the next five or ten years or so. Might as well, you know, until we try for No. 2, I guess.

Q. How much longer do you think you will play?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Um, you know, I hope to just get myself and my ranking up there so hopefully can do couple more years or so. Like I said, when I started or when I started thinking about it, you know, I know that I was out of shape and that I needed definitely six, seven months to get back into shape. I didn't know really if I had to start at the end of this year, you know, whether that was kind of like a waste of time, but then, you know, thinking about it longer, I thought, maybe, okay maybe it's good to get just get over, get used to the whole, the new rules on tour, meeting all the new players again. Just get that all over with, so when I can start next year I could just start from zero and don't lose too many tournaments, just kind of adjusting to all that again.
So I'll kind of just see whatever I play, all these tournaments and whatever is next after this, kind of as a trial and so that I can just get, you know, used to everything again. So once I, you know, get started in January, I can just hopefully be ready to go.

Q. How is the Kim Clijsters now different than the one who won here four years ago?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Probably a little more organized, I would say. I was kind of a person who just goes with the flow, and, yeah, just, you know, so now everything has to be a little more planned obviously with the baby. I mean, it's fun. It's definitely helped me a lot, as well. So, yeah, that's probably the biggest change I think is the planning that comes along with it.

Q. When you were thinking back on your career when you started practicing this year, were there any things maybe you might have done differently or things you could have done a little bit better or were you...
KIM CLIJSTERS: Through my practice period?

Q. Well, when you started playing again now and you were thinking about when you were on tour, were there some things that would have done differently or better or...
KIM CLIJSTERS: That's something that I've -- and I guess that's something I got brought up with from my parents, always try everything that you can. Obviously as you get older, you know, you learn more and you experience a lot of different things in life.
I think looking back at it now, at this stage, maybe there was a few things, but I didn't know those things that I would have done differently. Yeah, like I said, the planning, the organizing is something that has definitely helped me now. Also, just being away from tennis and looking at tennis on TV and just looking at a different view is something that's definitely helped me when I'm out there on the court right now.

Q. You talked about having no clue. Of the ones you've played so far, who do you think has impressed you of players you didn't know?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Definitely the match that Dinara played against me in Cincinnati was -- I mean, yeah, was very impressive. You know, I remember playing against her a few times in the past, and I think just the way that she played there against me was, you know, was very impressive. And she kept that level going throughout the whole match. In the past she had patches where she had few games where she could really dominate, but then she also made a lot of mistakes, and that's when she mentally got down a little bit. I felt when she played me in that match, I felt she was very consistent throughout that whole match, and I think that's just from the players I've played so far, she is definitely the one that to me has improved the most.

Q. What about Azarenka?
KIM CLIJSTERS: She was coming up when I was finishing, so I think I saw her play against Hingis, I think one year at the Open I think it was. She hits the ball incredibly clean and hard, and is a fighter. I think that's something that I noticed from a lot of the younger girls and the girls that kind of came on in the last couple of years is that their determination is very high. Yeah, they all play a similar kind of tennis I think. Like to really go for the shots, and play aggressive tennis.
You know, I think that's, what you have to play these days to, you know, have good results.

Q. There are one or two suggestions that Justine might try to come back, as well. Is that something you'd like to see?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, when I heard about it, I think I was a little bit surprised, and again, I don't know if it's a fact yet or something. So I think it's probably easier for me to comment on it when it's certain, because I don't want to start anything that might not be true yet.

Q. After Lindsay came back from having a baby, did you speak to her at all?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, we were in touch a while. It wasn't about tennis or practice; it was more about the babies, sending pictures back and forth. Not too much tennis involved. Until I actually started thinking about, you know, coming back and, yeah, I had so many questions just, you know, what the rules were, what the limitations were on the court and stuff. She was the perfect person to get some advice from.

Q. What kind of things did she say?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, she actually was very helpful. I mean, she really relaxed me, because I had it in my mind, and the only thing that I didn't know was, you know, how was the WTA, how was the staff and what are the rules and the limitations? She said, look, in your position right now, there are no limitations. I didn't know what the amount of wild cards were or I didn't know how everything worked. She said they were very cooperative, and they were. So they've been really good.

Q. Physically how did your body respond to the two tournaments? Did you feel capable going two weeks in a row, seven matches?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It felt good. Obviously Cincinnati, the first week, just a few little, like, aches and pains, you know, my workouts and my physical training, like, have been a lot tougher and harder, but I think it's the emotions and the nerves, I think, that are a part of playing a match. They have a big impact on, you know, on your muscles and everything. So the sore muscles, that's something that you kind of just have to get used to again. But in Toronto, I felt good even after that long match against Jankovic. Next day I felt pretty good. You know, that's a good thing. I think with Jada there is a lot more running around now than sitting and resting when you come home.

Q. You said a lot of the top women players play a very similar game. Do you think that one of your strengths is the fact that you also have this plan B that not all the players have?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, you know, I remember when I was coached by Carl Maes, I think that was something that he really tried to focus on as a coach was that, you know, I'm someone who likes to play aggressive tennis, but there has to be a backup plan I think when the control is not always there, and when that aggression is not always there.
You kind of need to work your way into a position where you can still win matches even if you make a lot more mistakes, or you're not feeling the ball as well. I think some of the girls don't really have that now. I remember Justine, she was one who could mix her game up even if she was not playing well. Someone like Mauresmo, even Venus and Serena were hard hitters, they can still work their way through matches even when they're not playing their best tennis. I'm not saying everybody's like that, but I haven't seen a lot of girls change their game up a little bit, you know.
Maybe that's something, the culture, as well, I think. A lot of Russian girls play similar. Dinara and Svetlana are different because they do mix it up a little bit, especially Kuznetsova, she's really good at doing that. She's kind of from the older generation, I'd say.

Q. You're one of the players that is more active on the social media. That's something that's really changed a lot. You're on Twitter a lot. What about some of the warnings going out about what players Tweet? Andy was critical of that and said no one is going to go give out inside information.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, that's not why I do it. Especially for the fans, I think it's a opportunity for the fans to, you know, just interact I think with myself and you know, I'm on Facebook, and it's for my friends, it's a very easy way to just stay in touch with everybody, and I'll probably have 500 friend requests after this. But no, it's fun. Just with my family and everybody. It's an easy way to stay in touch and keep everybody updated on the situation.
I have to say, I mean, I'm not very good with computers and everything, but, you know, I just try to once in a while get some information out there.

Q. Is there anything that since you've come back that you've found physically you can't do that you used to be able to do? We used to see the splits. Everybody would gasp.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I can still do those. (laughter.)
I can still do those, but that's the thing, I mean, in these seven or eight months, I've been really able to work on problems that I had physically in the past where during tournaments or, you know, in the off-season where you only had three or four weeks to train, you didn't have time to train for. That's something I feel lucky for that I was, you know, just -- I was able to take the amount of time that I wanted and needed, and I really feel I'm working with Sam now, he's an osteopath, and I think the combination of the osteopath and doing yoga and doing strength and doing my physical work, I think it's really worked well for me. You know, the only issue that I had was after the pregnancy was just getting your core back into shape. I think that was something that was the toughest, because, you know, I've been playing tennis since I'm five years old, so that was something that was always, you know, the core, the lower back, like area, that was always something that was very strong. But after the pregnancy, that just -- yeah, it all goes.
So you have to reteach all those muscles to contract when they're supposed to, you know, especially with each shot that you hit. I mean, everything just kind of has to get reminded of, okay, this muscle has to move at that time.
And that was something that I really -- they're the most boring exercises ever, but it was something I really felt like I had to, because I went out there in January, February, hitting, and it was terrible. It was awful. Yeah. So that's not when the idea of coming back was in my mind.

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