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September 12, 2009

Kim Clijsters


K. CLIJSTERS/S. Williams
6-4, 7-5

TIM CURRY: Couple points of business before we start. We will be releasing a statement from the tournament shortly after this press conference.
Also, Kim will be doing her press conference in English here, and then we'll move her across the hall for the Flemish portion.

Q. Welcome back to women's tennis. This has got to be the most shocking end to a match you've ever had.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I mean, it's unfortunate that a match that I was playing so well at to end that way. You know, obviously, yeah, I still -- to this point I'm a little confused about what happened out there, and, um, just because I was so focused. You know, just trying to win that last point for me.
So then things ended up ending a little bit different than I expected.

Q. Your comeback has really given a lot of joy and pleasure to a lot of people watching. Does the way this ended take the joy out of tomorrow's match potentially?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Out of tomorrow's match?

Q. Yeah.
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not at all. Maybe a little out of today's match just because, you know, you want to finish that last point, kind of, especially when you hit -- like I was seeing the ball really well, I was hitting well, and I was really focused.
I think, yeah, that's what -- just trying to be focused on that last point. And to win it, that's a great feeling to have. It's a little bit unfortunate that I didn't have that, but it's not going to take anything away from tomorrow's match or how special that would be for me, and for both of us.

Q. Congratulations, Kim.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Same colors, right? (laughter.)

Q. Ah, where are we here? (Laughter.)

Q. Oh, my. Goodness gracious. You had only beaten her once out of eight tries.

Q. Did you have a feeling during the match, my God, I am playing well?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Not at the time, but, you know, again, I was just so focused on trying to just play well each point and not worrying about when she started lifting her game a little bit or when she started hitting a lot more first serves in or a few more aces.
Trying not to let it get to me and trying to focus on making the next return and working your way into the point and into the game a little bit.
So at the time, you don't think -- obviously you know, okay. I'm having good feeling out there tonight. That's a great feeling to have, but you're not constantly telling yourself, like, It's going good.
Because if you keep saying that, then I think then you can start to like lose that focus a little bit early. You just have to really stay positive out there, and just, yeah, like I said, fight for each point and try not to have those dips that I maybe had, you know, in Cincinnati, Toronto, where you played -- where I played some good tennis, but then also a few against a few players I lost a few games here and there because I lost focus a little bit.
That's something that today I just really tried to, yeah, just to keep doing, was that I just stayed in there even when I was down breakpoints. I really just took my time and just, you know, played one point at a time.

Q. It seems as if there is a little something, that it's taken a little off of what you should be feeling right now because of this win. But you played so well. Do you think it will be a short time until you can finally say, Hey, I probably would have won the match anyway?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I'll never say that, because a match is never played -- well, you can write it, but...

Q. I'm radio, but...
KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, sorry. (laughter.)
No, but that feeling, again, like I just said before, when you play that last point, whether it is a winner or by mistake from your opponent, you know, it's a great feeling to have, especially that's how it usually goes.
So, yeah, the normal feelings of winning a match weren't quite there. But, um, I think afterwards when everything kind of sunk in a little bit and got explained to me about what happened, yeah, you kind of have to put it all in place, and then it becomes a little bit easier to understand and to kind of not celebrate, but at least have a little bit of joy after a match like that.

Q. You've always been an excellent player, but you've got to be at least a bit surprised that you reached the final of your first Grand Slam?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yes, very much so.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I mean, again, I've spoken before about what for me was really important in Cincinnati and Toronto and those tournaments was knowing that I was capable of competing with those top girls.
I think that's where I kind of made a click, but I never really excited to be beating Venus and beating Serena. You try and you try to bring your best tennis, but, no, I mean, you don't expect things to be going this well this soon.
That's why I, knock wood, just try to really stay focused and not lose, yeah, not lose my rhythm that I've been having over these last two and a half, almost three weeks that we've been here. Just trying to keep that going until the whole tournament is finished.

Q. She was very clear that she felt that you were playing better and that you were going to win that match. Did she say anything like that when she came over to you? Does that make you feel better about it at all?
KIM CLIJSTERS: She just said, Good luck. I hope you win. You know, we always got along well, and I think just unfortunate that a battle like that has to end like that. So, again, yeah, just unfortunate.

Q. This is the second time you're sort of an innocent bystander when she has a sort of controversial moment out there. Did that flash in your mind?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Not at the time, but, yeah, when I was upstairs and, you know, doing -- you know, running afterwards and stretching, yeah, I mean, you kind of wonder, you know, what is it with our matches?
Yeah. But then again, I mean, it's a completely different situation.

Q. Despite the fact that you were focused and you played your exceptionally well, but how much of what happened on the court today, were you surprised by any of it at all? Did you hear anything that Serena said? Were you also surprised by the extent by which the decision was made to like end the game?
KIM CLIJSTERS: To be honest with you, I didn't even want to be involved, just because in my mind I was still focused. Okay, Kim, don't lose focus. You still need to win this last point here. I just tried to stay away against the back of the court and tried to stay away from everything.
Then all of a sudden, I didn't even hear, you know, anybody talking or anything or them talking to each other. I just, like I said, tried to stay away and tried not to lose focus or not to lose my concentration on trying to finish that match.

Q. But were you taken aback by her body language and her frustration, especially in the first set when she broke her racquet?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I didn't see it. I heard it.

Q. You didn't see it?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I didn't see her break the racquet, obviously, but I heard it. I heard the racquet being cracked. It's not like I'm looking at her doing it.
No, because you're so focused. You're kind of in your own bubble when you're out there. So you don't, yeah, you don't see it. I mean, I heard the racquet break a couple of times. (laughter.)
But, yeah.

Q. You're playing now the final against Caroline, a player which when you took your break two and a half years ago was not very well known. Now she's top 10 player even before the tournament, and she's played unbelievable, great, solid. She's 19 years old and in her first Grand Slam. So give your memories when you played your first Grand Slam, and what do you think about her?
KIM CLIJSTERS: To be honest with you, when I played an exhibition game in Hong Kong, I think it was the start of 2006 in my last year, she was -- you know, we played doubles together. She was like the -- she got a wildcard into the event as a new upcomer, young girl, so she must have been 16 at that time.
Just by the way she was hitting the ball, by the way that she was doing everything I think around the tennis was -- you could just tell, you know, that she was going to be, you know, a rising star. You know, she's shown that in her results. She's very consistent. You know, she's a super nice girl, as well. I've been able to get to know her a little bit better. I knew her a little bit from the past, but then got to know her a little bit better over these past couple of weeks. She's a very sweet girl.
Going back to your question about my first Grand Slam was at the French Open. Yeah, when you're so young, I mean, I can only speak for myself, but thinking back of the Jennifer Capriati final, I still can't remember a lot of things about it. I must have just been -- yeah, it was so much to take in all of a sudden, and it happened so fast.
So it was, yeah, again, I mean, just by watching the video and everything I can kind of remember situations, but I mean, it was very -- it's a very special moment that first, you know, Grand Slam final.

Q. You've mentioned the good relationship you've always had with Serena, but what do you make of threatening language that she apparently used toward the linesperson?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Again, I didn't hear it, so I can't sit here and comment on what she said or what she didn't say. So again, I don't think it's my place here right now to be commenting on that, just because I didn't hear it.
If she would have been talking to me it would have been a lot easier to comment on it.

Q. What do you feel for her, having concluded the match this way?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, the timing is unfortunate, you know. To get a point penalty at the time, it's unfortunate. But there are rules, and you know, like I said, it's just unfortunate that it has to happen on a match point.

Q. Is there any time when you were just about coming back that you thought, am I doing the right thing, or is this going to work or am I going to embarrass myself or maybe I shouldn't be doing this?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I never -- once I decided that I was going to really go for it, it was already in my mind for like ten days or so, so it's not that feeling or that idea came up, and I immediately like took it, like took it and started working on trying to get back.
I mean, you know, I tried to push it aside a few times just to see, Is that feeling coming back and is the motivation just to play exhibitions, is that going to be enough for me? And just, you know, ten days or even two weeks, I just tried to keep hitting and...
But then, yeah, that feeling just became stronger. So then I knew, Okay, this is what I'm going to try to do.
But then again, not at that time obviously. Then a couple months went by just to see, Okay, what is possible? What's not possible? And I didn't know if there were limitations by the tour or anything. So I just kind of had to work my way into just getting a lot of things explained to me and everything.
To me, it was really clear, Okay, this is going to be our plan and the schedule for this year. So it took a little while.

Q. Did you hear the umpire say game, set and match, Kim Clijsters?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I didn't even hear anything. I was just so surprised and shocked all of a sudden to see Serena walking over to me, and it just -- yeah, again, I just tried to stay out of it, so that -- you know, because in my mind I was still focused on trying to finish the match there, and so I really didn't want to get into any, you know, I didn't want to get to let anything into my mind. So sorry.

Q. Japanese player who used to play doubles with you is going to retire, so could you give any comments on her?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I know. Ai told me actually a few weeks ago already that she was going to -- this was going to be her last Grand Slam. It's sad. She's been such a mentor for me in a lot of different ways. Her mother, as well.
I think it was, you know, when my dad and I were traveling and everything, you know, we got along so well with them. Went out to dinner together. Just very, very special. Very warm people. She really helped me make my game better, just by at a young age being able to play with someone who had so much experience.
I was able to practice with her. She's a girl who will always give 200% even if she's not feeling well or if she injuries or anything, she'll always give 200%. Some of my best practice sessions have been with her.
Over the years, even still now, to my coach now, I still talk about that, how special it was to be able to hit with her when I was 15, 16 and to be able to play doubles with her. And then doing so well in doubles and winning a couple of Grand Slams, you know, was really special.
Just you kind of become a little family on your own when you're out there on tour. So it was, yeah, when I heard it, I was like, Oh, no, because I'm back now and you kind of want to enjoy it a little bit together.
But, you know, she's had a really, you know, very consistent and a very, professional career. I think she's been -- I mean, I know that she does a lot of things outside of tennis, as well. She has her, what do you call it? Rubber bands for the hair and everything. Like she has that going for her and she has a lot of stores.
But she likes to really just do a lot of different things. She's going to be missed. I think she always is laughing, as well. That's something that was nice to see on tour with her.

Q. First of all, are you feeling a little strange that you're an underdog in the semis and you're a favorite in the finals? And second of all, do you think retirement would be this exciting?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Ah, um, again, I think answering the underdog question, when you're out there, you don't think about that at all, actually. You just try to focus and try to just play each point, because you know out there every match has to be played and every match can be won.
So I'm sure that she's, my opponent tomorrow Caroline Wozniacki, is going to think the same way. So again we start out there 50/50. We'll see what happens then. What was the second part?

Q. Retirement being this exciting.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I'm very happy with the way that everything has been, you know, because a lot of things changed for me in those two years when I was absent.
I'm super happy that I was able to do a lot of those things that happened that year. So, yeah, I'm just glad that, you know, I'm doing well now. Just, you know, I'm thinking today and then whatever is next tomorrow, not look back too far.

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