Clijsters won 41 WTA singles titles and 11 WTA doubles titles. She won four Grand Slam singles titles: three at the US Open, in 2005, 2009, and 2010 and one at the Australian Open in 2011. She was also runner-up in four Grand Slam singles tournaments and won the WTA Tour Championships singles title in 2002, 2003, and 2010. In doubles, she won the French Open and Wimbledon titles in 2003. She was also runner-up in two Grand Slam doubles tournaments, one WTA Championships doubles tournament, and one Grand Slam mixed doubles tournament. In 2001, Clijsters was part of the Belgium Fed Cup winning team. Clijsters announced her retirement with immediate effect on 6 May 2007, but almost two years later, on 26 March 2009, she publicly declared her intent to return to the WTA tour for the 2009 summer hard court season. In only her third tournament back, she won her second US Open title, becoming the first unseeded player and wildcard to win the tournament, the first unranked player to win a Grand Slam and the first mother to win a major since Evonne Goolagong in 1980.
On 20 May 2012, Clijsters, who had previously announced that 2012 would be her last season, revealed that she would retire after the US Open. On 29 August 2012, Clijsters played her last singles match of her career at the 2012 US Open where she lost in the second round to Laura Robson. Clijsters was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 22, 2017.
Clijsters was born on 8 June 1983, in Bilzen, Limburg, in the Flemish Region of Belgium. She is the daughter of Lei Clijsters, a former international footballer, and Els Vandecaetsbeek, a former national gymnastics champion. Lei Clijsters died of lung cancer on 4 January 2009. Clijsters says that she inherited footballer's legs from her father and a gymnast's flexibility from her mother. Kim's younger sister Elke finished 2002 as the ITF World Junior Doubles champion but retired in 2004 after back injuries. Clijsters started playing tennis at age 5 with her cousins, and her parents took her to watch matches around Europe. Her favourite tennis player growing up was Steffi Graf.
In December 2003, Clijsters announced her engagement to Australian Lleyton Hewitt, but their relationship ended in October 2004. Clijsters is still affectionately nicknamed "Aussie Kim" by Australians. In October 2006, Clijsters announced her engagement to American basketball player Brian Lynch, who was then playing for Euphony Bree in Clijsters' hometown of Bree. In an interview with Sportweekend (a sports programme on Belgian Flemish television), Clijsters said that she was retiring to start a family. Clijsters and Lynch married privately on 13 July 2007, at 6 am at the Bree city hall. She was married by the mayor, with sister Elke, Lynch's brother Pat Lynch, and both sets of parents present.
Clijsters gave birth to daughter, Jada Elle, on 27 February 2008, at 1:35 pm at the Vesalius hospital in Tongeren, Belgium. On 18 September 2013, Clijsters gave birth to a son, Jack Leon Lynch. In October 2016, she gave birth to her third child, a son, Blake Richard Lynch.
The family splits their time, spending autumn in Belgium and summers at their home in Wall Township, New Jersey.
Clijsters had won the Belgian Junior Championship by the age of 11 and joined an academy in Antwerp two years later. It was there she met Carl Maes, her coach for the first and last stages of her professional career. Clijsters was an accomplished junior player. In singles, she finished as runner-up in the 1998 Wimbledon junior event, finishing 11th in the year-end singles ranking. In the same year in doubles, Clijsters won the French Open title with Jelena Dokić, defeating Elena Dementieva and Nadia Petrova in the final, as well as the US Open with Eva Dyrberg, defeating former partner Dokic in the final. Clijsters ended the season as no. 4 in the International Tennis Federation junior doubles world ranking.
In 1999, Clijsters made her breakthrough professionally. At her first WTA tournament in Antwerp, she qualified and lost to the eventual finalist Sarah Pitkowski-Malcor in the quarterfinal, after failing to convert a match point. She also reached the doubles quarterfinals of the same event with India's Nirupama Vaidyanathan, defeating Vanessa Menga and Miho Saeki 7–5, 6–4.
Playing through the qualifying rounds at Roehampton, she made it to the main draw of Wimbledon. Clijsters won six matches in a row, while only losing 25 games. She defeated no. 10 Amanda Coetzer en route to the fourth round, during which Clijsters lost to her childhood idol, Steffi Graf, in straight sets, in difficult rainy circumstances. Later that summer, Clijsters reached the third round of the US Open, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams after serving for the match. In the autumn, Clijsters won her first Women's Tennis Association (WTA) singles title in Luxembourg. She followed up with her first WTA doubles title in Bratislava, partnering Laurence Courtois. At the end of the year, she was granted the WTA Most Impressive Newcomer award, the only Belgian player to have received this trophy.
Clijsters climbed up the rankings over the next couple of years. In 2001, she reached her first Tier I final at the tournament in Indian Wells, California, losing to Serena Williams in a match overshadowed by controversy. Clijsters also reached her first Grand Slam final at the French Open, where she lost to Jennifer Capriati, 10–12, in the third set. This two-hour, 21-minute match featured the longest third set in a French Open women's final. Clijsters was four times within two points of winning, before Capriati prevailed. Her next important breakthrough came at the end of 2002, when she won the year-end Home Depot Championships in Los Angeles, defeating top ranked Serena Williams in the final. This was only the fifth defeat of the year for Williams and snapped her 18-match winning streak. On her way to the final, Clijsters defeated fourth-ranked Justine Henin and second-ranked Venus Williams, becoming just the fourth player to beat both of the Williams sisters in the same event. She also equaled the event's record for the fewest games dropped.
Clijsters started her season at the Adidas International, where she won her first tournament of the year, defeating Lindsay Davenport in straight sets in the final. Clijsters reached the final after defeating Patty Schnyder, Chanda Rubin and Justine Henin. At the Australian Open, Clijsters lost in the semifinal to Serena Williams 4–6, 6–3, 7–5, after leading 5–1 in the final set and holding two match points. On the way to the semis Clijsters lost just fifteen games beating Samantha Reeves and completing a double bagel (wherein the opposing player fails to win a single game) against Petra Mandula. She then continued by winning in straight sets against Tatiana Poutchek, Amanda Coetzer, and Anastasia Myskina. At the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, she defeated Lindsay Davenport in the final.
Clijsters reached the final of the WTA German Open, after defeating Jennifer Capriati 6–4 in the final set. In the final, she played Justine Henin and squandered three match points to lose the final set, 5–7. To compound the day, Clijsters also lost the doubles final 4–6 in the final set.
Clijsters’ third title of the year came at the Telecom Italia Masters in Rome, where she defeated Amélie Mauresmo in the final. Clijsters had defeated Myskina and doubles partner Ai Sugiyama to make the final.
At the French Open, Clijsters reached the final for the second time in three years, after defeating Nadia Petrova. In the final, Clijsters lost to Henin 0–6, 4–6, and again at the US open, 5–7, 1–6. She also lost in the semifinal at Wimbledon to Venus Williams, after leading by a set and a break.
On 11 August 2003, Clijsters attained the world no. 1 ranking, holding the spot for 12 non-consecutive weeks during the remainder of the year, and was the first player to be top ranked by the WTA without first winning a Grand Slam singles title.
On 18 August 2003, Clijsters also attained the world no. 1 ranking in doubles, joining a very select group of only four players—Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Martina Hingis, and Lindsay Davenport—having reached the world no. 1 ranking in singles and doubles simultaneously. Through 2016, only Serena Williams has managed to join this group.
The world no. 1 ranking was again at stake in October during the final of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Filderstadt, Germany. Clijsters rallied from a set down to beat Henin. The match marked only the eighth time that the top two players battled for the top ranking. Even though Clijsters won that match, she finished the year ranked world no. 2, just behind Henin.
Clijsters started 2004 by playing in the Hopman Cup. During the tie against Australia, Clijsters injured her ankle against Alicia Molik. Clijsters was on crutches for a few days and feared she might need surgery. Clijsters pulled out of the Adidas International due to the injury. Clijsters did recover in time to reach her fourth career Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, where she lost once more to Henin. After defeating Marlene Weingärtner, Maria Elena Camerin (with a double bagel), Dinara Safina, Silvia Farina Elia, Anastasia Myskina (during the match Clijsters aggravated her ankle injury), and Patty Schnyder to reach the final. Clijsters then won two consecutive titles in Paris and Antwerp. In Paris, Clijsters defeated local favourite Mary Pierce in the final. To reach the final, Clijsters defeated María Sánchez Lorenzo, Farina Elia, and Safina. While defending her Tier I title at the Pacific Life Open, Clijsters injured her wrist during her win against Angelika Roesch in her first match. Clijsters withdrew before her second match with the injury described as a bruised bone. Clijsters withdrew from the event in Miami the next week Clijsters then appeared six weeks later in her home town of Bree to play in a Fed Cup tie against Croatia, winning both of her rubbers. Clijsters returned to the tour in Berlin and needed three sets to see Marta Marrero off. Clijsters then pulled out of her second match and then was told to rest for five weeks, causing her to miss the French Open. Clijsters then had surgery to remove a cyst, causing her to miss three months of the tour, including Wimbledon and the US Open. Clijsters also missed the Olympics, but she had already decided not to play the tournament after a dispute about clothing sponsors. Clijsters returned to the Tour at the Gaz de France Stars. She made the semifinals, defeating Iveta Benešová and Magdalena Maleeva, before pulling out in the second set against Elena Bovina. Clijsters had aggravated the injury and although she did not need surgery, she was out for the rest of the season. She played down fears that the injury might force her retirement from tennis.
Clijsters missed the Australian Open due to injury. In February, after four months out, Clijsters returned to the tour by participating in the Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp. Her first match back was against Jelena Kostanić, which she won in straight sets, before losing to Venus Williams in the quarterfinals.
Clijsters completed her comeback in March and April, when she won, as an unseeded player, 17 matches in a row to claim two Tier I titles and regain a top-20 ranking. At the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, Clijsters was ranked world no. 133. The Belgian began by beating Nicole Pratt, Shinobu Asagoe, Anna Chakvetadze, and Evgenia Linetskaya, all without dropping a set. In the semifinals, Clijsters defeated world no. 5 Elena Dementieva in straight sets and world no. 1 Lindsay Davenport in the final in three sets. The week after that win, Clijsters defeated four top-6 players in straight sets to win the NASDAQ-100 Open. To win the title, Clijsters defeated Sandra Klösel, Amy Frazier, Nathalie Dechy, Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, Amélie Mauresmo, and Maria Sharapova, going the whole tournament without dropping a set.
Turning her attention to clay, Clijsters’ winning streak continued at the J&S Cup. Clijsters defeated Tatiana Perebiynis, Maria Kirilenko, and Elena Bovina. Against Bovina, Clijsters’ picked up a minor shoulder injury. Clijsters’ 17 match winning streak was finally ended by Svetlana Kuznetsova. Playing next at the WTA German Open Clijsters defeated Yuliana Fedak and Dinara Safina in straight sets before, hurting her right knee and retiring against Patty Schnyder. Clijsters recovered in time to play in the French Open. Playing in the French Open for the first time in two years, Clijsters defeated Meilen Tu, Cervanová, and Daniela Hantuchová to advance to the fourth round, where she lost to Davenport 1–6, 7–5, 6–3 after leading 3–1 in the second set.
Clijsters got off to the best possible start for her grass-court season at the Hastings Direct International Championships by winning the tournament. Clijsters defeated Jelena Janković, Conchita Martínez, Mashona Washington, Kuznetsova and Vera Dushevina to claim her third title of the year. At Wimbledon, Clijsters defeated Katie O'Brien, Marissa Irvin, and Roberta Vinci, before facing Davenport in the round of 16 for the second Grand Slam in a row. The result was the same as the French Open, with the American winning.
After Wimbledon, Clijsters went on an amazing run of form, where she lost just once between July and October. Clijsters’ run began at the Bank of the West Classic against Ai Sugiyama, and she defeated Daniela Hantuchová, Anna-Lena Grönefeld, and Venus Williams to win her fourth title of the year. Clijsters’ streak continued in San Diego, as she defeated Marta Domachowska and Janković, before being beaten for the only time in this run by Peng Shuai.
After the defeat by Peng, Clijsters continued the run; she won 22 matches in a row, collecting four straight titles along the way, including her maiden Grand Slam title. The 22-match streak started against Karolina Šprem, with victories over Safina, Nadia Petrova, and Francesca Schiavone. Clijsters collected her fifth title of the year. The streak continued in Toronto as Clijsters beat Virginie Razzano, Ana Ivanovic (via a walkover), Flavia Pennetta, Anastasia Myskina and Justine Henin-Hardenne to win the Rogers Cup. After winning three of her four US Summer Hard court tournaments, Clijsters won the US Open Series, which links all the US summer hard courts together and doubles the winners prize money at the US Open. Giving Clijsters a chance to double the $1.1 million US Open winners prize to $2.2 million.
Clijsters won her first Grand Slam singles title at the US Open, after having reached four Grand Slam finals previously. Clijsters started by defeating Martina Müller, Fabiola Zuluaga, Ai Sugiyama and María Vento-Kabchi in straight sets to reach the quarter finals. There, Clijsters defeated tenth-seeded Venus Williams in the quarter-finals 4–6, 7–5, 6–1, winning 11 of the last 13 games after being down 6–4, 4–2. Clijsters squandered five match points in the second set of her semi against Sharapova but eventually won 6–2, 6–7(4), 6–3. In her fifth attempt, Clijsters won her first Grand Slam final, defeating Mary Pierce in straight sets. By winning the US Open Series Clijsters doubled her US$1.1 million in prize money she received for winning the US Open, to US$2.2 million. The pay check was the largest payday in women's sports history.
On 15 September, a week after her US Open victory, it was announced that Clijsters and her coach, Marc Dehous, had parted company, which was due in part to her paying him only $9,000 of her $2,200,000 US Open winnings.
Clijsters’ hot streak continued as she extended her streak to 21 wins, even without a coach at the Fortis Championships. Clijsters beat Klára Koukalová, Schiavone, Dechy and Lena Groenefeld all without dropping a set to win her eighth title of the year. The title was Clijsters’ fourth consecutive title. At the Porsche Grand Prix Clijsters defeated Šprem for her twenty-second consecutive match win before Dementieva ended the streak.
Clijsters then won her ninth and final tournament of the year at the Gaz de France Stars, defeating Schiavone in the final, to go the whole tournament without dropping a set. Clijsters defeated Ekaterina Bychkova, Šprem, Julia Schruff and Safina to make the final.
At the year-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, Clijsters was eliminated in the group stage. Clijsters lost her first match, a rematch of the US Open final, to Pierce 6–1, 4–6, 7–6 and her second match to Mauresmo 6–3, 7–6. This left the Belgian needing to win and hope that the results in the other matches went her way. Although results did not go her way and Clijsters was eliminated with one match still to play, she finished her season by defeating Dementieva in straight sets. Clijsters ended the year ranked World No. 2.
Clijsters started the year by withdrawing from her semifinal match at the WTA tournament in Sydney, citing a left hip muscle strain.
At the Australian Open, Clijsters defeated former champion Martina Hingis in the quarterfinals, 6–3, 2–6, 6–4, before retiring from her semifinal match with Amélie Mauresmo. Despite the loss, the ranking points she accumulated were enough to regain the world no. 1 ranking, a position she last held on 9 November 2003. She was the first tennis player, male or female, to rise from outside the top 100 (world no. 134) to world no. 1 in less than a year. Clijsters' loss to Mauresmo in the Australian Open semifinal was due to an ankle injury. Although she had been expected to miss at least eight weeks to recover, Clijsters returned two weeks later at the Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp. She lost the final of that tournament to Mauresmo in three sets.
Clijsters won her first title of the year at a clay court event in Warsaw, defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final. At the French Open in May, Clijsters reached the semifinals without losing a set, defeating Martina Hingis in the quarterfinals, 7–6, 6–1. However, she lost to Justine Henin in the semifinal, 3–6, 2–6, on her 23rd birthday. She was seeded second going into Wimbledon, but was again eliminated in the semifinal by Henin, also in straight sets, 4–6, 6–7(4).
Clijsters collected her second title of the year as the top seed in Stanford, defeating Patty Schnyder in the final. Clijsters then reached the final in San Diego, falling to second-seeded Maria Sharapova in straight sets. This was her first loss to Sharapova in five career meetings.
On 16 August, after receiving a first-round bye at the Tier I Rogers Cup in Montreal, Clijsters faced Canadian Stéphanie Dubois in the second round. Having won the first set 6–1 and trailing 2–3 in the second set, Clijsters slipped and fell on her left wrist and was forced to retire from the match. On 18 August 2006, Clijsters announced on her official website that the condition of her wrist was worse than she had expected and that she would be unable to defend her title at the US Open. She also missed the Fed Cup final against Italy, which Italy won 3–2.
Playing in Paris at the Gaz de France Stars tournament, her first event in more than two months, Clijsters successfully defended her title by beating qualifier Kaia Kanepi in the final. At the year-end WTA Tour Championships, Clijsters lost a semifinal to Mauresmo, 2–6, 6–3, 3–6, after defeating Dementieva and Kuznetsova and losing to Sharapova in the round-robin phase of the tournament.
2007 was to be Clijsters’ final year on tour, as she had planned in 2005 to retire at the end of the 2007 season. Clijsters started the year by winning an exhibition tournament, the Watson Water Challenge, in Hong Kong. On her way to the title, she defeated Zheng Jie, Patty Schnyder, and top-ranked Maria Sharapova. Clijsters then won the Medibank International in Sydney, defeating Nicole Pratt, Shahar Pe'er, Li Na, and Jelena Janković to claim the title, after being match point down in the final.
At the Australian Open, Clijsters was the fourth seed. The Belgian started by giving a double bagel to Vasilisa Bardina, before going on to defeat Akiko Morigami, Alona Bondarenko, and Daniela Hantuchová in straight sets. Clijsters then defeated sixth seed Martina Hingis in three sets, before losing to Sharapova in the semifinals.
Clijsters next played in Belgium at the Proximus Diamond Games, after pulling out of the Open Gaz de France with a hip injury. While Clijsters said that she was fit, she hinted that she might miss the French Open. Clijsters defeated Olga Puchkova, Ana Ivanovic, and Tatiana Golovin to reach the final without dropping a set, though she lost there to Amélie Mauresmo.
After this event, Clijsters confirmed that she would miss the French Open and US Open, making Wimbledon her last Grand Slam event. The Belgian also added that her last two tournaments would be in Luxembourg and at the WTA Tour Championships in Stuttgart.
At the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, Clijsters lost in the fourth round to Li Na in three sets, after beating Akiko Morigami and Samantha Stosur. A month later in her first clay tournament of the year in Warsaw, Clijsters failed to defend her title, when she lost to Julia Vakulenko 6–7(3), 3–6.
On 6 May 2007, citing injuries, Clijsters announced on her official website that she was cutting short her season and bringing forward her plans to retire from professional tennis. Clijsters decided to retire immediately from the sport.
Almost two years after her retirement and one year after the birth of her daughter in February 2008, it was announced that Clijsters, along with Tim Henman, Steffi Graf, and Andre Agassi, would play an exhibition event on Wimbledon's Centre Court in May, in order to test the new roof.
While preparing for the exhibition at Wimbledon, Clijsters called a press conference on 26 March, and then announced that she was returning to professional tennis. She said that she had been inspired when preparing for the Wimbledon roof event during January 2009. Clijsters stated that she had asked for wildcards for the Cincinnati and Toronto tournaments. Additionally, Clijsters had also asked for a wildcard at the US Open, after which she planned to evaluate the comeback in terms of success and the feasibility of combining it with her family life. Clijsters also stated that she preferred to think of it as a "second career" instead of a comeback, because so many factors (marriage, a baby, the recent death of her father) were different from her first career.
At the Wimbledon exhibition, Clijsters and Henman won 7–6 in a tiebreak against Graf and Agassi. Clijsters also played a singles rubber against Graf, winning 6–4. Clijsters said at the event that she had been practicing for a month and had started to feel good again at the start of February. In July, she won both of her doubles matches with the St. Louis Aces of World Team Tennis.
Clijsters started her second career at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open in Cincinnati, following the acceptance of her wildcard. She defeated world no. 13 Marion Bartoli in the first round, 6–4, 6–3. In her next two matches, she defeated world no. 20 Patty Schnyder, 6–2, 7–5, and world no. 6 and reigning French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6–4, 4–6, 6–2. In the quarterfinals, she lost to world no. 1 Dinara Safina, 2–6, 5–7.
Following Cincinnati, Clijsters played at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on another wildcard. She defeated British qualifier Elena Baltacha in the first round. In the second round, she defeated world no. 9 Victoria Azarenka, 7–5, 4–6, 6–1, but lost to world no. 4 Jelena Janković in the third round, 6–1, 3–6, 5–7, after serving for the match at 5–3.
She then received a wildcard to play in the main draw of the US Open. She won her first-round match over Viktoriya Kutuzova, 6–1, 6–1. She won her second round match, defeating world no. 14 Marion Bartoli for the second time in three weeks, 5–7, 6–1, 6–2. She then defeated compatriot Kirsten Flipkens, 6–0, 6–2, in the third round. She went on to upset world no. 3 Venus Williams in the fourth round, 6–0, 0–6, 6–4. This was only Clijsters' 11th competitive match since coming out of retirement. Clijsters beat 18th seed Li Na in straight sets, 6–2, 6–4, to reach the semifinals, where she faced defending champion and world no. 2 Serena Williams, winning 6–4, 7–5 after Williams was given a point penalty on match point after a dispute with an official over a foot-fault call. Clijsters became the first unseeded finalist at the US Open since Venus Williams in 1997, and the first wildcard to ever reach the US Open final. With her victory over Serena, Clijsters became the only player to have beaten both Williams sisters in the same tournament twice. In the final, she defeated ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki, 7–5, 6–3, to win her second US Open title. Her US Open victory placed her in the top 20 in the world rankings. She also became the first wildcard champion in US Open history and the first mother to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won Wimbledon in 1980.
Clijsters then received a wildcard to play at the 2009 BGL Luxembourg Open in Luxembourg as the second seed. She eased through her opening match, 6–2, 6–2, against Meghann Shaughnessy, but fell to Patty Schnyder in a close second-round encounter, 4–6, 6–3, 6–7.
Playing an exhibition match in Antwerp, Belgium on 10 December, Clijsters defeated Venus Williams 6–1, 7–5. She finished the year ranked no. 18.
In March 2010, Clijsters won her first Laureus World Sports Award, for her 2009 US Open comeback. She also won the WTA Comeback Player of the Year and the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award for the seventh time.
Clijsters started her 2010 campaign at the Brisbane International in Australia as the top seed. She defeated Tathiana Garbin and Alicia Molik in the first two rounds, without dropping a set. She then defeated Lucie Šafářová in three sets to advance to the semifinals, where she defeated Andrea Petkovic to set up a final with her compatriot Justine Henin. Clijsters led 6–3, 4–1, before Henin won eight consecutive games to take the second set and lead 3–0 in the final set. Clijsters trailed 5–3, saved two match points before breaking back and forcing a final set tie break. During the tiebreak, Clijsters struck a backhand that appeared to land on the line, sealing the championship. She raised her hands in the air in celebration, before the call was overruled by the umpire, who claimed the ball was out. Despite being rattled by the call, Clijsters was unfazed and remained focused, going on to win the match, 6–3, 4–6, 7–6(6) after Henin double faulted to give her another match point.
Clijsters' next tournament was the 2010 Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the season where she was seeded 15th. Clijsters advanced to the third round with straight-sets wins over Valérie Tétreault and Tamarine Tanasugarn. In the third round, Clijsters lost to world no. 20 Nadia Petrova, winning just one game in the worst defeat of her career.
Clijsters did not play competitively again until March at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. She was seeded 14th, but fell to 23rd seed Alisa Kleybanova in the third round, losing a final-set tiebreak. Clijsters found form at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open, as she went on to win the title. As the 14th seed, she only dropped three games while defeating Petra Kvitová and Shahar Pe'er. Clijsters then defeated the defending champion Victoria Azarenka, losing just four games. Next she defeated world no. 10 Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals and Justine Henin in a final set tiebreak to reach the final. Clijsters went on to beat Venus Williams in straight sets in the final, ending the American's 15-match unbeaten streak. As a result of winning the title for the second time, Clijsters' ranking rose to world no. 10.
Playing her first clay tennis match in three years at the Andalucia Tennis Experience as the third seed, Clijsters advanced to the second round after beating Alexandra Dulgheru in three sets. However, in the second round, Clijsters lost to the world no. 258 Beatriz García Vidagany. Clijsters played in Belgium's Fed Cup tie against Estonia, easily defeating Maret Ani, 6–4, 6–2, in her opening singles match. However, it was discovered that she had torn a muscle in her left foot, causing her to pull out of her next match against Kaia Kanepi. Doctors ruled her out for six weeks, but Clijsters hoped to make an early recovery. She later announced in a press conference that she would have to withdraw from the rest of the clay-court season, including the 2010 French Open.
Clijsters returned to action at the start of the grass-court season in Eastbourne as part of her Wimbledon warm-up, where she was victorious in 2005. Clijsters, as the fifth seed, defeated compatriot Yanina Wickmayer and Šafářova to reach the quarterfinals, losing just three games, before losing in straight sets to Victoria Azarenka. Despite this loss, Clijsters’ ranking rose to world no. 8, and she was seeded 8th at her first Wimbledon Championships since 2006. She started well, with a straight-sets wins over Maria Elena Camerin, Karolina Šprem, and Maria Kirilenko to set up a fourth round clash with 17th seed Justine Henin. Clijsters came back from a set down to beat Henin, 2–6, 6–2, 6–3. Clijsters lost in the quarterfinals to 21st seed and eventual finalist Vera Zvonareva in three sets.
In between Wimbledon and the US hard-court season, Clijsters participated in the record-breaking Best of Belgium, an exhibition extravaganza. Clijsters defeated Serena Williams in straight sets, improving her head-to-head record since her comeback against the Williams sisters to 5–1 (3–1 against Venus who won against Clijsters at the Billie Jean Cup 2010, 2–0 against Serena).
Clijsters played her next event at the 2010 Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open in Cincinnati, where she had made her comeback the previous year. This was her first event of the 2010 US Open Series. After a first-round bye, Clijsters, as the 4th seed, defeated former world no.1 Dinara Safina, Christina McHale, and Flavia Pennetta in straight sets to reach the semifinals. In the semifinals, Clijsters was leading 2–1 when her opponent, Ana Ivanovic, had to retire due to a foot injury. In the final, Clijsters faced 10th seed Maria Sharapova and after losing the first set, Clijsters found herself down 3–5 in the second set. She managed to save three match points on her own serve, before rain interrupted play. Clijsters came back to take the second set into a tie-break, and despite being down 0–3, she came back to win the tie-break and then claim a 2–6, 7–6(4), 6–2 victory. This win propelled her ranking to world no. 4 with her 38th singles title of her career.
Clijsters played her final event of the US Open Series in Montreal at the 2010 Rogers Cup, where she was seeded 5th. After coming back from 4–6, 1–4 down in the opening round to defeat Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Clijsters reached the quarterfinals, before losing to Vera Zvonareva in three sets.
Clijsters then competed in the 2010 US Open, where she was second seed. Clijsters advanced to the quarterfinals without dropping a set, defeating Gréta Arn, Sally Peers, Petra Kvitová, and Ana Ivanovic. There Clijsters came from a break down in the third set to defeat 5th seed Samantha Stosur, 6–3 in the final set to advance to the semifinals. In the semifinals, Clijsters faced Venus Williams, winning the match in the final set to extend her US Open match winning streak to 20, second only to Chris Evert's 31-match winning streak from 1975–1979 and tying with Venus and Monica Seles. In the final, Clijsters faced seventh seed Vera Zvonareva in a rematch of their Wimbledon quarterfinal meeting. Clijsters won, only dropping three games, to defend her US Open title, winning it for the third time and her second as a mother. The win also extended her US Open winning streak to 21 matches and was her 27th victory of her last 28 matches at the tournament, the only loss came from compatriot and rival Justine Henin in the '03 final. By winning US$2.2 million, she equalled her own 2005 record of the largest payday in women's sports history. Injury then kept Clijsters out until the WTA Championships.
At the year-end championship, Clijsters advanced to the final, after defeating Janković and Azerenka to qualify for the semifinals. Clijsters lost her final group game to Zvonareva. In the semifinals, Clijsters beat Stosur in straight sets, after surviving a car crash. In the championship match, Clijsters faced world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in a rematch of the 2009 US Open final. Clijsters finished the year at world no. 3, after defeating the Dane in three sets to clinch her third WTA Championship and fifth title of the year.
Clijsters' final match of 2010 was a repeat of what the Best of Belgium should have been, a match against Justine Henin. The match took place at the Diamond Games in front of a Belgian crowd. Clijsters came out the winner, winning the match tie-breaker 10–5.
For her performance during the season, Clijsters received the WTA Player of the Year award for the second time (first one in 2005), the first player ever to win this award in the year following the win of the Comeback Player of the Year.
On New Year's Day, Clijsters defeated World no.1 Caroline Wozniacki in an exhibition match at the World Tennis Invitation in Thailand. Clijsters was victorious in three sets, winning 12-10 in a champions tie-breaker.
Clijsters' first competitive outing of the year was the Medibank International Sydney in Australia. In the first round, Clijsters defeated Alexandra Dulgheru in two sets, 6–1, 6–2. She then defeated Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová, Victoria Azarenka, and Alisa Kleybanova to advance to the final, where she was defeated by world no. 11 Li Na, 6–7(3), 3–6, despite leading 5–0 in the first set.
Clijsters started a strong campaign at the 2011 Australian Open as the tournament favourite with an emphatic 6–0, 6–0 victory over former world no. 1 Dinara Safina in the first round. This was the first time in tennis' open era that a former world no. 1 player received a double bagel loss in a Grand Slam tournament. Clijsters then defeated Carla Suárez Navarro, 6–1, 6–3, and Alizé Cornet, 7–6(3), 6–3, before winning a fourth-round match against Russia's Ekaterina Makarova, 7–6(3), 6–2. In the quarterfinals, Clijsters continued her progress without dropping a set by beating the twelfth seed Agnieszka Radwańska, 6–3, 7–6(4).
She defeated world no. 2 Vera Zvonareva, 6–3, 6–3, guaranteeing her accession to world no. 2, her highest ranking since her return to the tour. Clijsters won the 2011 Australian Open singles by beating Li Na, 3–6, 6–3, 6–3. It was her first major win outside the US and her fourth overall. Clearly emotional, Clijsters declared that she finally had earned the title "Aussie Kim."
Clijsters next traveled to play at the indoor tournament in Paris. After defeating Jelena Dokić in the quarterfinals, Clijsters returned to the top of the WTA rankings for the first time in almost five years, overtaking Caroline Wozniacki. Clijsters eventually progressed to the final of the competition, but was beaten by third seed Petra Kvitová in straight sets, 4–6, 3–6.
Up next for Clijsters was the Indian Wells Masters in California, where she was seeded second. After receiving a bye in the first round, she faced Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia and defeated her, 6–2, 6–0. In the third round, she beat the Italian Sara Errani in three sets, 6–3, 2–6, 6–4. Clijsters had to retire in her next match against Marion Bartoli at 6–3, 1–3 with a shoulder injury.
Clijsters was the defending champion in Miami and the second seed. After defeating Anastasiya Yakimova, 6–1, 6–2, and María José Martínez Sánchez, 6–4, 4–6, 6–3, in the second and third round, respectively, she came back from 1–5 0–40 in the final set against Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round, winning the match, 7–6(4), 3–6, 7–6(5). She eventually lost in the quarterfinals to Victoria Azarenka in straight sets, 3–6, 3–6.
On 21 April 2011, Clijsters was elected number 16 on the Time Top 100 list of most influential people, the first sports person on the 2011 listing.
Clijsters suffered an ankle injury while dancing at a wedding and missed most of the clay-court season before the 2011 French Open. Clijsters was the second seed in the Roland Garros draw. She was defeated by Arantxa Rus in the second round, 6–3, 5–7, 1–6, after leading 6–3, 5–2 and having two match points. Clijsters suffered a further ankle injury in the UNICEF Open, which forced her to withdraw from Wimbledon.
Clijsters returned to the tour at the 2011 Rogers Cup. She received a bye into the second round, where she played qualifier Zheng Jie. She won the first set 6–3, but retired three games into the second due to an abdominal injury. The injury caused her to pull out of the 2011 Western & Southern Open, and then the 2011 US Open, where she was the two-time defending champion.
She announced on her blog that she was dropping the rest of the season to fully recover in order to get ready for 2012, the year of the Olympic Games, and that she may come back in December 2011 in Antwerp for the Diamond Games. After a four-month lay-off, Clijsters returned successfully to the court, beating top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki 6–2, 7–6 (7–5) at the Diamond Games exhibition.
Clijsters began her 2012 season at the Brisbane International. She defeated Simona Halep in the first round, followed by a 6–1, 1–6, 6–3 defeat of Ana Ivanovic in the second round. She comfortably won her quarterfinal match against Iveta Benešová, 6–3, 6–2. Clijsters met Daniela Hantuchová in her semifinal match. Leading 7–6, 1–2, Clijsters received a medical timeout for a hip spasm. She played only one game afterward, retiring to hand the match to Hantuchová, 6–7, 3–1.
Clijsters entered the 2012 Australian Open, the last appearance in the event before her expected retirement. As 11th seed. Clijsters defeated Maria João Koehler and Stéphanie Foretz Gacon in the first round and second round, respectively. In the third round, she defeated Daniela Hantuchová, 6–3, 6–2, in a rematch of their semifinal encounter at the Brisbane International only a fortnight earlier. Clijsters played Li Na in the fourth round, whom she defeated to win the title in 2011. At 3–3 in the first set, Clijsters rolled her ankle and required a medical timeout. Despite being severely hindered in her movement, Clijsters played on, but quickly lost the first set 4–6. She recovered from a break down in the second set to force a tiebreak. Down four match points at 2–6 in the second set tiebreak, she reeled off six consecutive points to take the second set tiebreak, 8–6. She took a 5–1 lead in the final set, but Li recovered, bringing the match to 5–4. However, Clijsters rallied, serving out the match, 4–6, 7–6, 6–4. Clijsters then defeated top seed Caroline Wozniacki, 6–3, 7–6, seemingly unhampered by the ankle sprain she sustained in the previous round. She lost in the semifinals to third seed and eventual winner Victoria Azarenka, 4–6, 6–1, 3–6. Clijsters' ranking dropped to no. 30 after failing to defend her points from winning the title in 2011.
Clijsters withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open after exacerbating the ankle injury she sustained at the Australian Open. Clijsters' next tournament was at the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. She lost to fellow Belgian Yanina Wickmayer in the third round, 4–6, 6–7. Following the match, Clijsters announced that she was suffering from a hip injury and would not compete for at least four weeks. At the time, she hoped that she would be back for the Madrid Open, starting in May; however on 17 April 2012, Clijsters announced that she will skip the clay-court season, including the French Open, because her injury had not sufficiently healed. In 's-Hertogenbosch, Clijsters defeated Romina Oprandi, Kateryna Bondarenko and Francesca Schiavone. She then withdrew from the tournament prior to her semifinal match against Urszula Radwańska due to an abdominal injury. Entering Wimbledon as the world No. 53 and unseeded in the tournament for the first time since 2000, Clijsters defeated Jelena Janković and Andrea Hlaváčková in the first and second rounds respectively, and defeated Vera Zvonareva in the third round, advancing to the second week of the tournament. Clijsters was defeated by Angelique Kerber in the fourth round, ending her final Wimbledon campaign.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Clijsters defeated Roberta Vinci and Carla Suárez Navarro in the first and second rounds respectively. She then played Ana Ivanovic in the third round, winning 6–3, 6–4 and advanced to the quarterfinals where she lost 2–6, 5–7 against Maria Sharapova.
Clijsters' final tournament was the US Open, where she previously won three titles. In singles, she defeated Victoria Duval, 6–3, 6–1, in the first round, but lost in the second round against Laura Robson, 6–7, 6–7, her first singles defeat in the event for nine years. She played doubles with compatriot Kirsten Flipkens, but lost in the first round to Chuang Chia-jung and Zhang Shuai. She played mixed doubles with Bob Bryan, but lost in the second round to Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares. Clijsters officially retired on 2 September 2012.
Clijsters competed at the Diamond Games in December 2012, dubbed the 'Kim's Thank You Games', as a ceremonial farewell in her native Belgium. She defeated Venus Williams in a singles exhibition match, 6–3, 6–3. Later on she and Amélie Mauresmo lost to Venus Williams and Kirsten Flipkens in doubles. A full house of over 13,000 of Clijsters' fans turned up to the Antwerp Sports Palace for the contest.
In December 2013 at the Kim Clijsters Invitational (Diamond Games) at the Antwerp Sports Palace in Belgium, former and current tennis stars took part in some singles and mixed doubles exhibition matches. Kim and Xavier Malisse were victorious over Kirsten Flipkens and Henri Leconte, 7–5, 6–2, in mixed doubles.
Clijsters competed in the Women's Legends Doubles event at the 2014 French Open in June 2014 alongside Martina Navratilova as her partner. In the group stage they defeated Iva Majoli and Anastasia Myskina, and then Conchita Martínez and Nathalie Tauziat. Clijsters and Navratilova advanced to the final as winners of Group B. They won the doubles event defeating Nathalie Dechy and Sandrine Testud, 5–7, 7–5, [10–7], in the final.
Clijsters participated at the 2014 Optima Open, a tournament on the ATP Champions Tour in a special mixed doubles exhibition match.
Clijsters served in 2014 as Tournament Director for the Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp, which had been previously played as a tournament and then as an exhibition. Clijsters and Andrea Petkovic played an exhibition match that Kim won 5–3 in place of a finals because Carla Suárez Navarro retired before the match.
In July 2017 Clijsters participated in the Ladies' Invitation Doubles match at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships with Rennae Stubbs, playing against Andrea Jaeger and Conchita Martinez. During the match, Clijsters humorously asked spectators how she should serve. The match was notable for Clijsters inviting a spectator, Irishman Chris Quinn, onto the court after he suggested she do a 'body serve'. The spectator proceeded to don white women's sports clothing as per Wimbledon regulations, and was served the ball twice, returning the first one. Clijsters and Stubbs later won the match 6-2 7-5.
On July 22, 2017, Clijsters was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.
Clijsters has a powerful physique that combines naturally with a strong baseline game. The Belgian is equipped with an array of powerful and deep forehand and backhand shots . Her forehand, although at times erratic, is her main weapon. She is easily able to dictate play with her forehand and she is capable of hitting winners from any position on the court. Clijsters also has a strong and consistent two-handed backhand, which is arguably one of the best in the women's game, particularly her cross-court backhand, which she hits with great accuracy and pace. An accomplished doubles player, Clijsters has an adept net game. She often mixes up her aggressive-style play with drop shots and backhand slices to draw her opponents into the net, where many players are uncomfortable. She also has a very solid over-head and is noted for her quick transition from the baseline to the net to finish points.
Clijsters' first serve is not overwhelmingly powerful, but is placed well and earns her free points. When timed correctly, her serve can be considered a major weapon. Clijsters also possesses a strong second serve that is not easily attackable; however, she sometimes lacks confidence on serve and loses timing, resulting in a high number of double faults in some matches.
Clijsters is also widely recognised for her all-court defence, characterized by her speed and athleticism, and has the capacity to wear her opponents down. Clijsters is one of few players on the WTA tour who can slide on all surfaces. Clijsters possesses the perfect balance of athleticism: her powerful build and strength from her father Leo, a successful football player in Belgium, and flexibility from her mother Els, a national gymnast. Maria Sharapova, interviewed after losing to Clijsters in the 2005 Nasdaq-100 Open, said, "You just have to expect that she's going to get every ball back".
Clijsters and Justine Henin met 25 times over a period of 12 years. Their series ended 13–12 in Clijsters' favour, though Henin won all three of their Grand Slam Final meetings.
Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva first played each other in 2002. Clijsters leads the head-to-head match-up 8–3.
Prior to her first retirement in 2007, Clijsters won all five of her matches with Zvonareva. The women met again during the 2010 season, when Zvonareva won three of their four matches—the exception being the US Open final. Zvonareva's first victory against Clijsters came at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships. Their only match of 2011 was won by Clijsters at the Australian Open. Clijsters also won their only match of 2012 at the Wimbledon Championships after Zvonareva retired due to breathing problems.
Clijsters and Amélie Mauresmo met 15 times over eight years. Their series ended 8–7 in Clijsters' favour. Prior to the 2005 WTA Tour Championships, Clijsters lead the series 8–2. Mauresmo won their final five matches from 2005 to 2007, including the final of the Proximus Diamond Games in 2006 and 2007.
Clijsters and Venus Williams have met 13 times since 2001. Clijsters led the series 7–6. Clijsters last lost to Williams in the 2005 Proximus Diamond Games, when the matches were 6–2 in Williams' favour. She went on to defeat Williams five consecutive times, including three times at the US Open. They last played professionally in the semifinals of the 2010 US Open, with Clijsters winning in three sets.
Clijsters and Serena Williams have met a total of nine times since 1999. Williams led their series 7–2, with Clijsters winning their last encounter at the 2009 US Open, their only match since the Belgian's comeback in 2009.
Clijsters and Maria Sharapova have met a total of nine times since 2003. Clijsters leads the series 5–4. Clijsters won their first four meetings. Sharapova then won four of their last five meetings.1992–1996: Bart Van Kerckhoven
1996–2002: Carl Maes
2002–2005: Marc Dehous
2009–2011: Wim Fissette
2011–2012: Carl Maes
Clijsters has used Babolat Pure Drive racquets since 1999. In May 2002, Clijsters signed a deal with Fila. She had previously worn Nike apparel and footwear, but was not under contract. Her contract with Fila was extended in January 2012.
Clijsters has been reluctant to endorse certain products, including Nutella and refuses to promote unhealthy food. She has also turned down endorsements that involve her daughter. In 2009, she signed a two-year endorsement deal with Adecco and a one-year deal with Thomas Cook Group. In January 2010, Clijsters signed an endorsement deal with sports beverage AA drink. She was also endorsed by Belgian telecommunications company Telenet and banana producer Chiquita. She became the brand ambassador for the Citizen Watch Signature Collection in 2010. In 2011, Clijsters was named a Brand Ambassador of global nutritional company USANA. She is represented by Belgium sports, media and entertainment company Golazo Sports.
Clijsters is currently an Ambassador of SOS Children's Villages Belgium.Clijsters became the first person from Belgium to reach a Grand Slam singles final in the Open Era.
Clijsters became not only the first Belgian—man or woman—to be ranked world no. 1, but also did so without winning a Grand Slam tournament. Clijsters is one of only six women to have been ranked world no. 1 in singles and doubles simultaneously (the others being Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis, Serena Williams, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, and Lindsay Davenport).
Clijsters compiled a 90–12 singles record. Her singles win total was the highest single-season total by any woman since Navratilova in 1982. Clijsters was the first woman to play more than 100 singles matches in a year since Chris Evert in 1974.
Following Clijsters's victory in the US Open Series and the subsequent US Open, she collected US$2.2 million in prize money, the largest single purse ever won by a female athlete until it was overtaken by Serena Williams when she was awarded a winner's sum of $3.6 million for winning both 2013 US Open Series and the Championship. To that date, Clijsters held a North American hardcourt win-loss record of 36–1.
Clijsters had a 22-match winning streak from August to October. During the streak, she won tournaments in Los Angeles, Toronto and Luxembourg, and the US Open.
First player ever to win the WTA Player of the Year Award in the same year of winning the WTA Come Back Player of the Year trophy
In returning to the World No. 1 ranking after the Australian Open in January, Clijsters broke a rankings record. She was ranked as low as World No. 134 in March 2005, so her return to the top spot in a ten-month span was the fastest and biggest leap in women's tennis history.
Third unseeded and first unranked female champion of a Grand Slam title by winning the 2009 US Open. Clijsters also became the first mother to win a major since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won the Wimbledon title in 1980, and the first mother to win the US Open since Margaret Court in 1973. She defeated Danish Caroline Wozniacki 7–5, 6–3 in the US Open final.
Returned to WTA rankings at number 19, equaling the highest debut ever that was set by Andrea Jaeger in 1980.
Won the WTA Come Back Player of the Year trophy despite only playing three months effectively.
First woman to retain the US Open title since Venus Williams in 2001.
Second woman in the Open Era to win three successive US Opens in which she played (she did not play in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 tournaments). Chris Evert won four US Open Championships in a row (1975–1978) and two additional titles in 1980 and 1982 for a total of six US Opens. Serena Williams later also won the US Open three times in a row, from 2012 to 2014.
21 consecutive US Open match victories, third all-time to Chris Evert's 31 from 1975–1979, and Serena Williams's 26 from 2012–2015.
Third woman to win two Grand Slams as a mother, one shy of the record by Margaret Court.
Repeated her own 2005 feat of earning a women's sport record paycheck of approximately US$2.2 million by winning the US Open, after ending the US Open Series as second after Caroline Wozniacki.
Won the Masters (WTA Tour Championships) for the third time joining a very select group of players, consisting of Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf.
Broke the US$20 million mark in career prize money at the same Masters.
Became WTA year prize money leader with more than US$5 million in earnings
First player ever to win the WTA Player of the Year Award in the year following the win of the WTA Come Back Player of the Year trophy (see also 2005) Both Serena Williams (2004–2008) and Amélie Mauresmo (2003–2006) became Player of the Year after having been the Comeback Player of the Year but they did not achieve this feat in consecutive years.
Receive the Karen Krantzcke WTA award for fair play for the 7th time.
Inflicted the first time ever double bagel loss at a Grand Slam since the start of the open era on a former World No. 1 player – Dinara Safina – during the first round of the Australian Open.
By becoming Australian Open champion, completed a consecutive winning string of the four most important hardcourt tournaments within a year: Miami Masters 2010, US Open 2010, WTA Tour Championships 2010 and the Australian Open 2011. Steffi Graf (November 1987 – 1988 ) and Monica Seles in 1991 had accomplished this series before.
Equalling the record of Margaret Court of winning three Grand Slams as a mother
Received for the third time a women's sport record paycheck of approximately US$2.2 million by winning the Australian Open
Became number 1 in the WTA rankings for the fourth time in her career on 14 February 2011 after the 2011 Open GDF Suez in Paris, nearly five years after being at the No. 1 spot in early 2006. It is also the first time Clijsters is number one in the same calendar year of winning a Grand Slam.
Became the first mother to hold the number 1 ranking since the inception of the computer rankings in 1975.
Ranked 16 on the Time Top 100 list of most influential people, the first sports person on the 2011 listing.
(2012) Became most time winner of the Karen Krantzcke WTA award for fair play (8).