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October 25, 2010

Kim Clijsters


MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How do you like the heat here?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, I like the heat, but I think the quick change in the last few days have definitely had a little impact on the way that you feel. You just have to adjust a little bit and kind of just take it a little slower than I would have liked.
Obviously I would have loved to practice and practice, but it's probably not the smartest thing to do right now when your body is just adjusting to the different weather changes.

Q. If I'm not mistaken, you haven't played in some time because you had a foot injury. How is your fitness right now, and what's the challenge of coming off a long layover coming into a tournament like this?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, it actually wasn't an injury that happened because of playing. I actually had a mole removed. We have random checkups during the season. I do it also at home. One of moles I had to remove when I went for a checkup with a dermatologist in Cincinnati.
He wanted to have it removed straightaway. I was like, Whoa, I'm playing tomorrow. I have to play a game. So I had one on the inside of my thigh removed and a mole underneath my right foot, which, you know, wasn't going to take that long.
The stitches were supposed to be in for ten days and all should have been fine. It got infected, so I had to take the stitches out before the wound was closed, so it took longer to heal by itself.
I still have a little bit of a cut. It's not bleeding or anything. It's closed, but there's a scab. It's good now. Doesn't hurt. I'm glad it's over with.

Q. What's your state of fitness now?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, I've been practicing physically, and tennis-wise I've been working out for about three and a half weeks, three weeks now, I think, in total. So I was physically still doing a bunch of stuff, swimming, biking, things that I was allowed to do without putting too much pressure on my foot just to stay in shape.
Physically, I mean, I feel fine. Had a lot of tests done with Sam. Yeah, so, no, I feel good. Obviously you feel a little different when you get here. You just feel a little bit more, how should I say, heavy because of the heat. First half hour everything goes well, and you hit the wall after a while. Your body just has to adjust again.

Q. It's quite a while since you played this tournament. I imagine you thought you wouldn't be back.
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, definitely not. But it's exciting. I've also been used to playing the Championships either in the States, New York or L.A., and in Germany one time. So for me to be in this part of the world is also a new experience as well.
It's fun. I'm excited to start. You know, Championships are always tough. From the first match onwards you have to play well and you have to try and get as many points and games as you can.
Even if you're not playing well, just try to hang in there. At the end of the day, it can make a little bit of a difference.

Q. One of the players has progressed lots in the last year, Caroline Wozniacki. She's now No. 1. You've been there yourself. Can you talk a little bit about the changes from going from the one who's chasing to the one that's being chased?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I mean, of course she's definitely -- you know, she's a great player. After making the finals of the US Open last year, she's definitely showed to the tennis world that she belongs up there. She plays a lot of tournaments, which I think in the future, as she gets a little bit older, will definitely change.
I was the same way. When you're young and things are going well, you want to keep it going. She's a nice girl. I think she has a game that's physically also I think demanding. She's not like a Serena who will hit a lot winners and aces. She really has to fight for almost every match she plays, which is a good thing. She brings beautiful tennis, I think, to the tour.
But like I said, when you are No. 1, everybody wants to say, I beat the No. 1 in the world. I think it's something that changes for the other players, but also in your mind you want to try and show that you're worthy of being up there and that you are the best.
But, you know, I think she has a good head on her shoulders. She travels with family as well. They will keep it as normal as possible to make sure she is not spending too much time worrying about ranking and how far, how many points to defend here and there.

Q. But she's only 20 years old and already achieved so much. You talked about that she has to slow down and play less tournaments over the years, or how do you see it?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think that's a natural progress. It will happen anyway. I'm not going to say you have to do it now. It wouldn't have an impact.
In the future, yeah, it's something that will happen as you get older. I never thought I would be the one saying that, but I experienced it, too. It is a part of any sport. The older you get, the more time you need also to rest in between and to mentally just stay focused.
Because when you're young and everything is new and everything is -- there's an adrenaline rush when you go to every tournament. After so many years, that rush is not always there anymore. You kind of need to just build up your motivation and battery, I think, in different types of ways.
For me, that was a way of resting and working out at home and then be ready to play those matches.

Q. You also reached the No. 1 spot without winning a slam at first. How do you think about this debate?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, people have asked me that also with Safina. Yeah, with Safina, with myself, it's -- she's definitely -- I mean, Caroline is worth being up there. She's been the most consistent throughout the year and played a lot of tournaments.
Like I said, the consistency is also a big part of being a professional tennis player. I think almost anybody can go to a tournament and do well and beat the No. 1 player in the world.
You're not looked at as the No. 1 player until you're actually there. She hasn't won a Grand Slam yet. Like you all have said, she's only 20 years old and achieved so much. So I don't think in a couple years' time we'll be asking that same question again.

Q. How different an achievement is it to win a Grand Slam as a mom compared with getting to the year-end finals as a mom with all the tournaments have to do well. Is it in some respects a greater achievement?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Maybe. Maybe in a way it is. But like I said, I don't look at myself as a tennis-playing mom. It's my life and it's what I deal with. I enjoy it.
Obviously there are days and tournaments where it's a little bit harder to enjoy. Like here, Brian and Jada are not with me this week, so I'm going through some tougher days.
It's all good. I actually can't imagine how I traveled for ten years without having all those people around me and not having a child, because I don't know how I filled my days. Because not having them here now, I feel like I have so much time off. (Smiling.)

Q. This year we had a lot of experienced Grand Slam champions like, Francesca, Serena, you. Is it just coincidence? Is there anything behind that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I don't think it's coincidence. I think at the moment, I think we're going through a new phase coming up. Wozniacki, you know, a bunch of younger girls who are doing well, Azarenka, they're definitely girls who can win a Grand Slam and were very close to winning a Grand Slam.
I think in those big tournaments, it is experience that definitely helps you through those big occasions. You know, obviously with Francesca, I mean, she's a little bit older, so she's had the experience not of being in a Grand Slam final, but she's had the experience of playing big matches and knowing herself very well and knowing her emotions.
I think it's something that when you're younger and you're in the spotlight and everything is kind of changing, there's a lot of different emotions involved that have nothing to do really with tennis.
I think that's something that you need to give a place in your life as well. I think everything takes time. Some players find their inner person a little bit faster than others. But I do think it's -- the experience definitely plays a big role, especially in the last few stages of a Grand Slam.

Q. Is there a particular reason that Brian and Jada haven't come on this trip? Is it rare that that's the case?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Obviously when we go to Australia and the trip is a little bit longer, that's going to be -- I'm not going to leave them for a month and a half or so. But it was only I think eight days or so now, so I was like, Okay.
She's going to start going to school as well. I'm not going to take her away from home and then being in a different -- the weather changes and everything. So I think it was more the motherly instinct who decided that than the personal favor of what I would have liked.
I feel fine with it. Like I said, it's different. It's a new experience. But, um, yeah, I mean, I can focus on tennis now.

Q. Coming back to just your fitness, as you said, you were off for several weeks or longer just with the foot problem. Coming in, how do you feel? Is it a bigger challenge coming into a tournament like this after you've been off for a while, or do you have the same mindset as if you were playing last week?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I probably wouldn't have played last week even if I was fit. I probably would have come here a few days early just to adjust, like I did now.
No, I've been playing some practice matches in Belgium, so, yeah, I mean, physically I feel fine. There's nothing that I am or my coach or fitness coach is concerned about.
Like you said, I haven't played a proper official match for a while. That's something I will have to kind of just build up a little bit in those first -- definitely in the first match. Just try to get a feel for just playing outdoors again, playing in the heat, playing against top players like. They're all like quarterfinals, semifinals of Grand Slams. It'll be a challenge. I look forward to it.

Q. Any particular goals for the new season for 2011?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Not at the moment. Not yet. I'm just still focusing on obviously here. But obviously the Grand Slams are always important. I just really just try to stay fit. That's always something that I am always focusing on, even if I'm not playing tennis or training, you know, on tennis, on shots or anything.
I'm just trying to make sure I'm preventing, doing a lot workouts in the gym. That's not just my goal, but also the team around me. If I'm healthy, then I can work hard and practice a lot and then I play better.
So that's where it starts.

Q. You played 42 matched this season. Do you think you would be able to replicate this number next season?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I hope not, because this year I wanted to play a little bit more. Because of my foot injury that happened earlier in the year, I wasn't able to play anything on the clay court.
I definitely hope I can play a few more tournaments in the middle of the season in Europe. That was definitely a big disappointment for me, not being able to go to Madrid and the French Open, of course.
So that was a tough one. So definitely I hope to make sure that I'm not missing a big part of the European Grand Slam circuit.

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