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Clijsters sets sights on 2020 comeback after seven-year absence

Clijsters sets sights on 2020 comeback after seven-year absence
FILE PHOTO: Belgium's Kim Clijsters waves to supporters during an exhibition tennis match against Venus Williams in Antwerp to mark Clijsters' retirement, December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo -
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Francois Lenoir(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – Four-times Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters plans to come out of retirement after a seven-year hiatus, returning to the WTA Tour in 2020, the 36-year-old Belgian said on Thursday.

The decision marks Clijsters’ second return to the sport after first retiring in 2007.

“I don’t really feel like I want to prove something,” Clijsters said on the WTA Insider Podcast. “I think for me it’s the challenge.

“The love for the sport is obviously still there. But the question is, am I capable of bringing it to a level where I would like it to be before I play at a high level of one of the best women’s sports in the world.

“I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon.”

Two years after winning her first major at the 2005 U.S. Open, an injury-plagued Clijsters decided to quit the game at the age of 23 to start a family, returning two years later to claim her second U.S. Open as an unranked player in only her third tournament back.

Clijsters defended her title at Flushing Meadows the following year and then won the Australia Open in 2011 en route to topping the world rankings for the first time since 2006.

With 41 titles to her name, Clijsters hung up her racket after the 2012 U.S. Open and later worked as a tennis commentator.

Clijsters said she has been considering a return to the tour for the past two years.

“I feel like I’ve had more energy these last six months or so than I’ve had in the last two years because I’m taking care of myself better,” Clijsters added.

“Even if I don’t make it, this whole process has been so worth it for me to get back into a good routine.”

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by David Goodman)

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