Clijsters stands by gamesmanship charge
August 4, 2003
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Kim Clijsters doesn't make a habit of backing down on the tennis court, and she wasn't backing down from her charge that fellow Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne isn't above a little gamesmanship in a tennis match.
Clijsters, who lost to Henin-Hardenne in the final at San Diego on Sunday, denied that it was poor sportsmanship that prompted her to suggest that her opponent might not have needed an injury time out to treat blisters on her foot.
"It's her full right to do it," Clijsters said of the five-minute time out, which Henin-Hardenne took after losing the first set.
But she added: "Sometimes she was limping after a point that she lost, then next point she was running all the balls down. Those were like little signs where I thought maybe she's faking it a little bit."
Clijsters insisted she didn't intend to take anything away from Henin-Hardenne's performance.
"I have absolutely no problem saying that she was the better player - in the second and third set, she was so much better than I," Clijsters said. "I don't like losing, but I think I give a lot of credit to my opponents."
Clijsters has pretty stern views on playing hurt in any case.
"I think the first time I ever called a trainer on court was this year in Berlin, and I actually pulled my hamstring," said the 20-year-old, who could grab the world number one ranking this week in Los Angeles, where Henin-Hardenne isn't entered.
"You see it in a lot of matches, where players pull out when they're down 6-1, 4-0. I think it takes some of the respect out of tennis," she said.
"Tennis is a physical sport, and you get injuries. Unless you break a leg or something, I don't think there's honestly a reason to pull out, unless you have the next week a big tournament coming up where you don't want to take any serious risk."