Moms — and tennis fans — take note! Although it has been 29 years since a Grand Slam event was won by a mother, Kim Clijsters is making a strong case that she will do just that at this week’s U.S. Open.
The 26-year-old former World No. 1 only recently returned to the sport after walking away in 2007 following a series of injuries and the birth of her daughter Jada Ellie, 18 months; Whatever rust she might have been feeling didn’t show, however, as she knocked off No. 3 seed Venus Williams last weekend. Next up is a quarterfinal match today against No. 18 Li Na, with a win guaranteeing her a spot in the semifinals. “I’m just happy that we have a family and I can balance both,” Kim said after the big upset on Sunday.
“I only just started watching tennis at the start of this year, to be honest. I didn’t really have that much time with a baby running around, and I was happy just to sleep when she was sleeping.”
For her part, Jada remains thoroughly unimpressed with mom’s inspired run at Flushing Meadows. “She knows that her mother plays tennis and that she says, ‘Uh,’” Kim’s husband Brian Lynch jokes. The 31-year-old former professional basketball player — who walked away from a European basketball contract to become a stay-at-home dad — says he understands the attention, however. “I think so many people can relate,” he explains. “How many women in the world have a child and try to make it work with their career?” Brian adds,
“I wouldn’t have stopped playing myself if I didn’t know she was serious about this. It’s a unique dynamic, with a husband and a daughter on the road with her. We can’t look too far down the road.”
One thing is for certain: The couple won’t be caught looking back, either. When asked Sunday whether she now regrets her premature retirement, Kim replied with a definitive no. “I’m glad I made that choice,” she said, “because a lot of beautiful things came out of it.”