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August 28, 2005

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Kim, please.

Q. How does it feel to be, after last year, one of the few Top 10 players here who isn't recovering from an injury?

KIM CLIJSTERS: For me, you know, that feels good now. I think I was in that situation last year and it's just -- it's a very good feeling and it's a very satisfying feeling to have, knowing that I'm capable of, you know, playing the amount of matches I've played this summer here in America and I still feel good. So that's very important for me.

Q. Have you replayed the Wimbledon match with Lindsay in your mind any time in the last couple of months and try to figure how close you were to winning that first Slam?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not at all. I think that was, you know -- that match in Wimbledon was, for me, it felt like a positive, a positive match. I know I lost it, but for me that was for the first time that I felt like in a long time that I was -- probably since Indian Wells, Miami, that I was playing some of my best tennis again. I think that's why that match has, you know, for my mental state as well, has made me improve a lot. That's why I think I've been playing so well in Stanford, San Diego, all those tournaments. It's because of that match because it gave me a lot more confidence, a lot more feeling. I felt like that match I was playing some of my best tennis that I've played.

Q. Kim, elaborate on that. The way it ended was not satisfactory.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, that's the thing. But that was maybe one game. I'm not going to let one game just mess up my whole, you know, the whole great feeling that I had for the rest of the match. So that's, you know, I felt like I was moving a lot better. I felt like I started -- for the rest of the match I was serving pretty well. I've been working on that a lot more. I feel like I've been serving, this whole summer, I've been serving really well. I've been improving. I'm serving a little faster, I'm serving more precise. I think of that match - not just that match, but also a few matches leading towards that one - have definitely improved my game towards the hard court summer.

Q. When you spoke the other day about imagining that you will retire in the next few years, were you speaking from emotion at that moment, or is that generally a decision you feel you've made?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, yeah. No, that's not just a -- I wouldn't say -- if that was just a fling, I wouldn't say that.

Q. Could you tell us just a little bit more about kind of how you balance out your priorities in life and why that feels right to you.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, but I also, you know, I think I want to have a goal. I think, you know, I'm going to give myself 200% for the next two more seasons after this, and I think, you know, I'm going to go for it and I'm going to give everything that I have. And also, with the body, I know that in the last few years I've gotten a lot more injuries, a lot more serious injuries. When I was younger I used to have some little aches and pains but they always disappeared. Now I feel like everything takes a lot longer to heal, and I'm still only 22. You know, I want to -- when I'm 30, 35, I still want to be able to play a lot of sports without having, you know, a lot of things to worry about. So I just want to think about, you know -- I've had a long career. Also, the type of tennis that I play is very, very demanding. You know, there's a time in life for everything. I'm looking forward for the next two years, and then I'll look forward to the next part, you know, of my life after my career.

Q. Are you confident that you can walk away from it, you think, at age 24?


Q. Why?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. That's hard to say but, you know, I still have two more years to go. But as long as I -- you know, when I was injured last year as well, you know, I missed tennis, you know, well maybe after like six months. But, you know, just because I know that if I'm, you know -- there's going to be a lot of other opportunities for me out there and a lot of other things to do. I'm not a big fan of the traveling so, you know, I don't think I'll be traveling as much as I am now so that will definitely be a relief. Yeah, there's little things. Just, yeah, see what happens and what comes around.

Q. There are very few players whose lives have not been changed emotionally by a Grand Slam victory. How can you know what you're going to feel like if you win a US Open, couple US Opens, a win in Wimbledon or the French Open, and two years the exhilaration of being on top of tennis, how can you know what that feeling is going to be like that you'd be willing to walk away from it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: There's a lot of feelings that you can't explain. You say if, if. There's always an if. I know how my body is feeling now and that for me is the main reason.

Q. You think there will be people who will try to talk you out of it two years from now?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Maybe. Maybe (smiling). But, you know, I think my mind is pretty strong. I know if I set my mind on something, I'll do it.

Q. When you mentioned you'd like to be able to play some other sports as you get in your 30s and stuff, what would that be? I assume that would be on a recreational level?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, yeah. Anything. Just being in sports all my life, my family being in sports all my life, we grew up always playing sports. It's part of being a healthy person, I think, just to play sports. Hopefully every day if I'm able to do that. That's something that I want to, you know, tennis has been a big part and is still a big part of my life and will always be a big part of my life. You know, that's something that I'll, yeah, just have to sort of wait and see. For the next two years that's something that I'll definitely have to work a lot on. I'll just have to look after my body, make sure I have massages every day, do my knee exercises, my shoulder exercises and my core exercises, and there's so much -- there's a lot of work. It's, you know -- because I have to, because I need to do all those things if I want to be able to play as well as I have been. That's why after the US Open I'm going to have a long break and have a few weeks off just to, you know, make sure that everything is right again and that I, you know, recover well.

Q. Do you feel fully fit at the moment?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, yeah.

Q. I saw that Ann Waters was here yesterday. What did she say to you? It must be nice to have the support of other Belgian athletes.

KIM CLIJSTERS: It's great. I mean, it was the first time I met her. Obviously, being from Belgium, I heard a lot about her and never have been able to meet her just because she's been to so many different countries. And then I wasn't able to go to watch her -- I mean, she wasn't even playing because she injured herself a couple weeks ago. I mean, she's a great girl. Very nice. We had a great time. We went out to center court. I showed her center court and she said, "This is huge." I said, "Well, they're not all like this, so enjoy this one."

Q. How many weeks do you plan to take off after the Open?

KIM CLIJSTERS: My first tournament is Luxembourg, so I think I'll have about two or three weeks off.

Q. That's not that much.

KIM CLIJSTERS: In a tennis season, that's nice.

Q. Justine reduced her schedule. Mauresmo didn't play until this week. Do you think it's going to be a trend where you'll see more top players take things into their hands and take chunks of the year off?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. I think a lot of the top players, whenever we play, I mean, a lot of us, we make it to the semis or finals at most of the events we play. So that's tiring a lot of the times. I think that's why a lot of the players shorten their schedule a little bit, limit the amount of tournaments before a Grand Slam as well just to have it a little bit more easy. That's why I didn't play New Haven this year. I feel like I had a couple weeks off in New Jersey and just, you know, was doing some running but just didn't touch a racquet for three days. I started hitting on Wednesday night or Thursday and so it's nice to have, you know, the mixture. It makes you more hungry. It makes you, even in the smaller tournaments, makes you more hungry playing the smaller tournaments as well.

Q. What's going on in Elka's career?

KIM CLIJSTERS: My sister? She's right there. She's sitting there. She's happy to be -- she's living at home, yeah. She's not playing tennis anymore.

Q. I must say you look very nice today.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Thank you (smiling).

Q. Are you making an effort to present a more glamourous image?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no (smiling). But, thanks, that's a nice compliment.

Q. I'm from India, I have a special question. We have a player now on the tour called Sania Mirza. Have you heard about her, watched her?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, yeah, of course. It's always fun to watch a lot of the girls that are coming up and she's definitely a girl I think with a lot of talent. She's a very nice girl, too. I spoke to her a few times in Toronto last week and she's just a very easy-going girl, her mother is a great woman and her coach is great. I mean, she's very talented. I think, you know, she's still -- I mean, her best tennis is incredible, I think. She's probably hitting the ball a lot harder and cleaner than a lot of the top girls out there but she's still a little inconsistent, I think. Through experience she'll learn and I definitely think she's going to be a good player, very good player.

Q. Is there anything specific when you spoke to her?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, just fun, just easy things. Nothing -- not a very deep conversation, but it was just easy, an easy chat, yeah.

Q. The last time I saw you play, you were losing to Shuai Peng. Do you suspect she could be a real factor in this event?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think so. I mean, if she plays like she played against me that night, I think she can make it tough for a lot of girls. But that's, you know, that's another thing. She's so young and a lot of those, you know -- I remember when I was in that situation, you know, you can play a great match at a tournament, but then, you know, your mind, the refocusing part is a little bit tougher because all of a sudden there's a lot more media attention, a lot of things going around, just not the tennis part. That's something you have to get used to. Nobody can really teach you that. That's something you have to get used to. I think through experience I think little bit similar to me, she just has to get used to it a little bit more, I think, and she can make it very tough for a lot of players if she starts being more consistent as well.

Q. When you're on the practice court, do you want to have an intense workout?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yes, I always do. I always do. I take quality before quantity, you know. Whatever I do, doesn't matter if I only have the court for 20 minutes or 30 minutes. If I am sharing the court with four players on the court, I'll try to -- even if I'm on half a court, I'll try to move twice as much, jump around when I'm not playing. I feel like that's always been my -- I think my intensity. I've always been a very, you know, energetic, you know -- a lot of my previous coaches have always had to say "Calm down, don't rush so much," and I've learned to take it a little bit slower over the last few years. But, you know, sometimes now during off days in a Grand Slam, I'll only hit for maybe 20 minutes, 30 minutes, but they will be very intense and I'll probably sweat more than I do in a match because you have so much time.

Q. If you play points, do you play it full out or just if a ball's out --

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, no. No, no. I'll run for the balls that go out as well.

Q. So, in other words, your philosophy is you play the way you practice?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, yeah. But I think even in practice you probably, you know -- in practice I'll run for balls that are, you know, this far out as well just because, you know, if I can get to those, I can get to the ones in matches that are going to be in. Even if they're on the line, I'm going to get to them.

Q. Because the way you practice carries over?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, yeah.

End of FastScripts….

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