Kim Clijsters: '11 could be last season
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Kim Clijsters thinks that 2011 will "probably" be her last full year on the tennis tour.
When asked Friday if the Australian Open women's final could be her last appearance at Melbourne Park, the 27-year-old Clijsters replied: "Yeah, it is."
"I know this is probably going to be my last full season on the tour, and then we'll see," Clijsters said ahead of Saturday's final against China's Li Na.
Fellow Belgian and former No. 1-ranked Justine Henin retired for a second time on Wednesday, citing a lingering elbow injury that forced her off the tour after Wimbledon last year. She won seven Grand Slam singles titles.
"Obviously it's a sad situation to see such a great player end her career in this kind of way," Clijsters said this week.
Clijsters returned to the tour in late 2009 after a 2½-year break, during which she got married and had a child. She won the U.S. Open in her third tournament back and has won five singles titles in all since her return, including the 2010 U.S. Open.
When she won the 2009 U.S. Open, she became the first mother to win a Grand Slam singles title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980.
On Friday at her pre-final news conference, she said the birth of her daughter, Jada, and the death of her father, Leo, may have contributed to her return to the tour.
"Obviously so many things happened in those two years -- the loss of my dad as well was something that kind of triggered me trying to do something different for a while to kind of get my mind off it and to try and put some time into kind of myself," she said.
She was also asked, based on Henin's injury-forced retirement, if coming back the second time had been more difficult.
"I had injuries before, so I knew when I started again I knew that that could be part of the second career as well," Clijsters said.
"It's not just all the beautiful things that I thought of when I started again," she said.
Clijsters has three major titles, all at the U.S. Open. Her best previous run at the Australian Open ended in a loss to Henin in the 2004 final.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press