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August 25, 2012
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
THE MODERATOR:¬† Questions, please.
Q.¬† This is the obvious?¬† What are your emotions entering this Open, being your last Open?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† I'm excited.¬† I'm obviously very excited to be back here after not being able to participate last year due to an injury in my stomach muscle.¬† I'm really excited to be here.
You know, obviously this place is magical for me.¬† I have had so many beautiful memories.¬† I have enjoyed coming here from when I was a junior.
You know, I love the surface, I love the atmosphere, and I'm excited.¬† I'm not really thinking about retiring yet, you know.¬† I'm still focusing on trying to, you know, be in the best shape that I can be.
You know, when I start Monday I want to be playing well.¬† I'm focusing on that for now.
Q.¬† You have a very difficult first quarter.¬† Can you talk about how you're preparing for the upcoming matches?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† Just like every other slam:¬† just take it one match at a time and go from there.¬† Like I said before, I just try to be, you know, as ready as I can be.¬† I'm not looking too far ahead.¬† I have an opponent first round up, a girl who I obviously don't know and have never played against.¬† They can be tricky as well.
I'm focused on just trying to play my best on Monday.
Q.¬† What does it mean to you when you hear the respect and admiration of your peers as you prepare to retire?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† You know, I have always enjoyed being around the other players and having a good relationship with them.¬† There is a lot of girls I have stayed in touch with over the years even when I retired in the past and had Jada and got married.
Tennis has been such a big, an important part of my life.¬† The social side of it, as well, has been important.¬† You know, it's great to be a part of these girls.
But the respect and the admiration is not something that I think about when I'm amongst the other players.¬† You know, I just try to be myself and be a good friend.
Q.¬† What is it about the Open and New York City that makes it tougher and different than other matches?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† Well, I think the surface is more grinding.¬† It's I think maybe a little more harder on the body, as well.¬† Maybe not so much for me this year, but I think over the last few years it's definitely ‑‑it's the last Grand Slam of the year.¬† A lot of players have been playing for a long time, had a tough season, tough summer this summer as well with the Olympics being added in between the French and Wimbledon.
You know, physically I think and mentally as well it's a tough one to deal with at the end of the season.
Q.¬† You have entered three events, correct?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† Yes.
Q.¬† Which is a lot for someone who has had injuries and hasn't played a lot this year.¬† Is the intention really to really win the singles, or more to have a nice going out and...
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† No, of course it's to try and win.¬† My mindset is not any different.¬† You know, I haven't played many matches or many tournaments.¬† I really believe that physically I can do it.
I have trained very hard for the last year to try and stay in good shape.¬† I feel that I'm probably in maybe the best shape that I have been in.¬† I'm not worried that, you know, that I'm physically not ready for it.
Q. ¬†You played very few tournaments.¬† How do you think this makes it more challenging?¬† Do you feel any sort of lack of match play?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† I remember 2009 I didn't have many matches, so I don't worry about that.
Q.¬† Golf has always had a senior tournament that has popularity.
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† Are you sending me on the senior tour already?
Q.¬† Tennis has a senior tour.¬† Is that something you would want?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† I haven't really thought about the senior tour just yet.¬† I have no idea.¬† I think obviously for women, you know, when we retire, I think families, you know, become obviously a big part of our lives.¬† A lot of the players go on and have kids.
I think for women it's maybe a little bit hard.¬† I think on the men's side we have a pretty big senior tour.¬† We have the guys playing all over the world playing in big arenas and playing some big stadiums.
I think for women it's a little bit hard to get back.
Q.¬† World Team Tennis, is it something you would consider?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† I have enjoyed playing World Team Tennis, I have played it, but seriously I haven't really thought about where my tennis life follows when I'm retired.
Q.¬† Have you ever played three events at a slam?¬† When was the last time you did it?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† Yes, I have.¬† I used to play too much.¬† I don't know exactly.¬† I mean, I remember playing singles, doubles.¬† I think the year when I played finals mixed with Lleyton, I think I also played doubles and singles.
Q.¬† But before you came back, not since you came back.
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† No, no.
Q.¬† You say you're feeling in great shape at the moment.¬† What makes you think now is the right time to call it a day?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† Here.¬† (Pointing to hear heart.)¬† You feel it when it's right.
Q.¬† Level‑wise, when you look at Serena, you guys played a great match back here 1999 when you were a kid and she was 18.¬† If you hadn't decided to have a family and stop now, level‑wise do you think you could play close to her level and be a top 5 player for the next couple of years?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† A lot of it depends also injury, physically‑wise.¬† If I didn't have that break, I don't know how physically what kind of shape I would have been in.
And especially mentally as well.¬† You know, it was very tough mentally I think to stay on top of the game for so long for me.¬† So for me it was good to be away and to come back fresh, just kind of refreshed.
It's hard to compare or to think what if I didn't retire or, you know, Serena is playing incredibly well.¬† She, again, has switched something on.¬† You know, it's great to see that she's doing so well physically after all the problems that she's had.¬† She's fitter probably than ever, and that's great to see, you know, that somebody who has had so many great victories and gone through so much is still focused on trying to win and winning.
Q.¬† Can you assess the state of the women's game now relative to when you entered the women's game?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† I mean, it's hard to explain, because when I came on tour when I was 15 or 16, to me it was like, you know, I saw Steffi, Monica, you know, and I was in full admiration of all those big names.
I think now it's a different story.¬† You know, I do my thing and I'm here to play tennis and that's it.¬† Then I go home to the hotel; whereas when I was younger, you like to see what it's like to be in the same locker room as those big names.
So I think when I started on tour, you don't really ‑‑you have to first soak it all in before you kind of feel comfortable or easy at the position that you're in.
As I got older, you know, you learn more about yourself and you learn more about other players.¬† I think I have gone through a few different generations.¬† I feel very lucky that I have been able to be a part of a big generation where Venus and Serena kind of raised women's tennis to a completely different level.¬† So it's been an absolute honor to be a part of that.
Q.¬† You mentioned Serena and then some of the other greats who were around when you started your career.¬† Where do you rate Serena in terms of her talent and her accomplishments?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† I mean, to me Serena is the best ever just because I think physically she just stands out.¬† When she's in good shape I think she just stands out tremendously.¬† I mean, you know, she's fast, she's strong, she has a very good eye, as well.¬† I think the combination of that is‑‑ I mean, what we have seen over the last few months is the best player ever.
Q.¬† What has she shown you by her ability to come back from life‑threatening illness to where she is today?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† I mean, every day there is people that inspire me just by whether it's, you know, seeing a mother on TV or seeing‑‑ reading a story in the paper.¬† Serena's is one of those, as well, what she's been through.¬† Not just with, you know, the health problems, but dealing with the loss of their sister and all those kinds of things.
It's not just one thing.¬† We sit here and do our press conferences, but we have a personal life, too.¬† That's something that's maybe not always‑‑ you know, on the court everything always looks great and perfect, but it's not always that way.
I think it's great to have, you know, big names like that and open up about it and be role models, as well.
Q.¬† When you think about Venus and what she's been through, she's had injuries and the latest illness, why do you think she can continue to play?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† I don't know.¬† I mean, like I said, tennis, you know, has been for so long the only part of our lives almost.¬† Okay, we traveled with our family and so did they.¬† We have been playing since we were four or five years old.¬† In a way we almost don't know any differently.
You know, I think in my case it's easy.¬† You know, when I retire I go home and I have my family.¬† But, you know, it's something that's probably ahead for all the girls that are going to retire at some point in their career.
It's a feeling that you need to have in the inside if you still want to keep going and you want to have more of those adrenaline rushes.¬† Everybody is individual.¬† You know, I just know for me the time is right.
Q.¬† Can you talk about just how you mentioned that Serena and how Serena lies amongst the greats, but what is your opinion on some of the off the court things that come along with her career, you know, that happened in the media, like the Crip walk, some of her comments sometimes in press conferences...
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† I really don't think that's up for me to comment on.¬† It's what happened in the past is in the past.¬† There is absolutely no ‑‑I don't really feel like I have to comment on that.
Q.¬† The way you have gone about your retirement is a little different than other players.¬† You let it be known this is going to be your last tournament for a while where some players like Demetieva kind of surprised with an on‑court ceremony after her last match.¬† What are the advantages and disadvantages for you being so open about this timetable?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† Well, it's me.¬† I can't, you know, sit here knowing that, you know‑‑ or for the last year sitting in the press conference and you guys asking me questions about, you know, do you want to have a second kid and when do you want to retire and am I lying or trying to find a way around not telling you guys.
It's just the easiest way for me to just say it, and, yeah, let it be that way.¬† That was the easiest way.
Q.¬† What was the most enjoyable stretch, time period of your career:¬† when you were younger pretty much playing every day and winning or the comeback later, middle of it?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† Every stage has a different meaning because there is a personal side to it attached, as well.¬† I mean, the first few years when you came on tour it's like everything is like amazing.¬† It's like going to Disneyland as a five year old.
Like I said, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, I got to play Steffi.¬† You have more of those "wow" moments when you're younger, but then it actually, when you start to get to know yourself better and your game and other players and the life that you live on the road, when that all becomes easier, that is also a very comfortable feeling to have.
It gives you, yeah, it gives you a lot of satisfaction.¬† I guess, more than when you're younger it's kind of all in your head.¬† There are so many things going on.¬† You're kind of all over the place a little bit in the beginning.
Like I said before, you know, you have to first soak that all in and then give everything kind of a spot in that lifestyle trying to find what suits you right.
Q.¬† If you become the US Open champion, could it maybe change your mind about retiring and coming back next year and defending?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† No.¬† (Smiling) No.
Q.¬† You are, I believe, the only woman on tour with children.¬† There are a few fathers on tour.¬† Could you tell me about balancing it all, being a mom and the schedule?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† I was in the locker room with a physio the other day and there were two other moms laying on the massage chairs.¬† We were laughing because we were saying how we needed it the most.¬† Girls that are 16 were walking in there, and we were like, No, get away.¬† We need this.
No, but I mean, it's a balance for everybody.¬† You know, there is obviously a detail for us I think for me especially in my mind figuring out the right balance between‑‑ you know, especially when I'm on the road, spending time, you know, with Jada and, you know, with my family.
I think that's something that has been‑‑ especially in the beginning it was hard trying to find, you know, enough time to be satisfied with the time that I'm putting into my career as a tennis player, but then also putting in the time to be satisfied as a mother and as a wife.
And it's communication.¬† It has been very important with my husband and with our nanny, as well.¬† I think without them I wouldn't have been able to do all this.¬† So communication has been very important.
Q.¬† Are you in communication with Justine Henin?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† Sometimes, yeah.¬† She will send text messages once in a while.
Q.¬† Also, as you're retiring, can you still play doubles?¬† Can you keep playing doubles?¬† Can you retire as single and keep playing doubles?
KIM CLIJSTERS:¬† No, I don't think so.¬† (Smiling.)
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports