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Monday 18 December 2017

Kim is keen to revel in endgame

Ace Clijsters can't wait for life after tennis - but she has double date to keep at Wimbledon first

KIM CLIJSTERS began her final Wimbledon campaign with a reminder to her fellow players that there is life beyond tennis.

The 29-year-old Belgian mother-of-one is a four-time grand slam champion after landing three US Opens and an Australian Open title.

But she has found time to marry and also start a family after taking a two-year hiatus from the sport in her mid-twenties, and hopes to have more children when she retires following this summer's US Open.

"There's so many other things involved than just tennis and practising. I think you see players kind of losing the true sense of life, and of the sport," Clijsters said.



Regrets

"I have no regrets. I know I always gave myself 100 per cent. So I don't have any regrets in that way, either."

Wimbledon is the only grand slam where Clijsters has not reached a singles final -- apart from in her junior days when she was runner-up in the 1998 girls' tournament.

She ranks third on the all-time women's tennis money list, behind Serena and Venus Williams, and has captured 41 career titles. But injuries have hampered her Wimbledon hopes in the past and could do so again.

She arrived in London with a left abdominal muscle strain sustained last week at a tournament in 's-Hertogenbosch, Holland, where she had to withdraw from a semi-final. It was a mild recurrence of a problem which ended her 2011 season in August, and is being closely monitored.

Today, she was set to kick off her final Wimbledon campaign against fellow former world number one Jelena Jankovic in an appetising first-round match on Court One.

If the match does not go Clijsters' way, at least she should have another chance to play in west London, with the Olympic tennis tournament also being staged at the All England Club.

The all-white tradition will be abandoned for the Olympics, with national colours on show, and it is an event Clijsters has been looking forward to for several years. Clijsters admitted recently she may have retired earlier had London 2012 chiefs not decided to use Wimbledon.

"I'm really excited about it," she said. "I got my outfit sent to me. I saw the red skirt. I was like, 'Red skirt at Wimbledon?' That's going to be a little bit different.

"I've never played the Olympics.

"Besides my personal goal, what I look forward to is trying to stick around and trying to support all the other Belgium athletes."

Top women's seed Maria Sharapova was also set to begin her campaign today, playing Australian Anastasia Rodionova on Centre Court, with last year's Wimbledon runner-up fresh from winning the French Open 16 days ago.

"It was a different feeling than the other grand slams I won," Sharapova said. "I didn't feel like I needed a huge celebration. I was walking around for three days with the biggest smile.

"Then I got here, and I better get back to reality."

Sharapova was beaten in last year's final by Petra Kvitova, who plays her first match tomorrow against Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova.

Czech Kvitova is also relishing playing Wimbledon twice this summer.

"For me, the Olympics is the fifth grand slam, if I can say it," she said. "It's a big event, and I will try my best again."

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