Kim Clijsters: My role now is to give back

Published by Leigh Rogers

CROWD FAVOURITE: Kim Clijsters waves to her many fans during her International Tennis Hall of Fame induction at Newport; Getty Images

Emotions ran high as Kim Clijsters celebrated her induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the weekend.

The popular 34-year-old Belgian admitted to feeling overwhelmed by the occasion, one which caused her to reflect on a stellar career that netted four Grand Slam singles titles.

“You kind of forget about your past life and these tennis things – so to be in this position and to be honoured is very special,” she told WTA Insider.

With husband Brian and their children, nine-year-old Jada, three-year-old Jack and nine-month-old Blake in tow, the family explored the International Tennis Hall of Fame museum in the American city of Newport.

“You reflect on your whole life a little bit and how this thing called tennis has brought you to this point of your life,” Clijsters admitted of the experience.

“It’s very special.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Kim Clijsters’ Hall of Fame induction

As for what Clijsters hopes her legacy is, that can be summed up with one word: passion.

“I just hope that my passion for the sport comes through,” she said.

“The combination (that) makes a champion, maybe even a greater champion, (is) someone who makes an impression on people’s lives more than just a tennis match or winning a big trophy.”

Since retiring in 2012, Clijsters has competed in legend’s events at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. She also commentates, was recently announced as a WTA Finals ambassador (an event she won three times) and at Wimbledon earlier this month mentored fellow Belgian player Yanina Wickmayer.

She also established an 18-court Kim Clijsters Academy in her home town of Bree in 2014. In January it produced it’s first WTA champion when 21-year-old Belgian player Elise Mertens won the Hobart International, where 17 years earlier Clijsters had won the second of her 41 career WTA titles.

“I love the sport, I love playing tennis but now it is my role to give back to the kids and to try and bring that passion across and make them realise how unique the sport is,” Clijsters said.

“We are very lucky that we are able to play a sport that is very well-liked all over the world.”

Clijsters, who is one of only six women to hold the No.1 singles and doubles ranking simultaneously, also weighed into the debate on the lack of consistency on the WTA Tour.

It has been a fervently argued topic so far this season – with Grand Slam champions such as Todd Woodbridge and Sam Stosur offering divergent views.

READ MORE: Woodbridge – where is the next women’s champion?

RELATED: Stosur defends women’s tennis

“The ATP has the Big Four, but I love the way women’s tennis is right now,” said Clijsters, who was ranked in the world’s top five for 250 weeks during her career. “There are so many first round matches that I’m so interested in when I get to a Grand Slam because it’s so unpredictable.

“It’s hard to, week in and week out, try and be at your best level… consistency is something that is very tough and that’s why I really admire what someone like Venus (Williams) is doing these days.”

You can listen to Clijsters’ full chat with WTA Insider here.

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