Kim's Return to the WTA - good, bad, or ugly?
Posted Aug 18th, 2009 at 11:35 PM by Ryan
this is my first blog for Tennisforum.com, and I figured I'd start my blogging by talking about the hottest topic in the WTA at the moment - Kim Clijsters' post-motherhood return to tennis.
I wasn't really sure how to feel when I heard that Kim was planning a comeback to tennis, especially after her exhibition with Steffi Graf a few months back at Wimbledon. Based on all reports, Kim was taking the match seriously while Steffi was playing for fun, yet Kim still struggled with her game and barely beat Graf. This didn't really bode well for her return I thought - how could Clijsters contend with the pace of today's game, when she could barely handle the softer shots of Fraulein Forehand, who's been retired for nearly a decade? Throw in the fact that Clijsters must have lost a step or two during her mommy vacation, and I was not very excited.
My opinion started to change for the better after seeing some of the scores Kim posted in WTT. Turns out, an exhibition at Wimbledon is a lot different from the more competitive venue of WTT. Kim got a bunch of sets under her belt in singles, doubles and mixed, and really ramped up the media frenzy that was following her comeback in Cincinnati. She was starting to prove to me, and the rest of tennis fans, that maybe her comeback wouldn't be quite as ugly as some of us were expecting.
And then, just last week, the former Aussie-Kim turned Mommy-Kim made her return to the WTA against Marion Bartoli. To the shock of many (myself included) Kim came out on fire, taking it to Marion and ultimately winning in straight sets. Considering Kim hadn't played a competitive match in over two years and Bartoli was coming off a title in Stanford, this match was a huge upset. Kim's comeback, dubbed 'Kimpossible' by some of her fans, was officially launched.
Clijsters followed up her win over Bartoli by thumping tour veteran Patty Schnyder in the next round, hitting her trademark groundstrokes with unexpected punch and running around the court like she was in her prime. She had definitely lost a little of her speed and flexibility, but for the most part Kim was showing why she made it to the top in the first place - she's damn good. Clijsters surprised me yet again by taking down 2009 French Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets, notching her first top 10 win of her comeback after only three matches. And even though she was no match for the #1 Dinara Safina in the quarters, Kim really showed that motherhood has done nothing to dull her competitive spirit or her talent with a racquet.
So where does Kimpossible go from here? As I write this she's getting ready to take the court in Toronto against Elena Baltacha of England. It was six years ago at this very event that Clijsters played her first match as the world #1, winning against Francesca Schiavone before losing to eventual finalist Lina Krasnoroutskaya. Now she comes back to Toronto without a ranking, with a newbown baby and a husband, and a chance to continue her success. Just how high can she go? I for one will not be making any assumptions.