Wimbledon Tennis Profile: Kim Clijsters

Kim Clijsters of Belgium has been one of the best players in women’s tennis for several years. Still, she has only one Grand Slam title to her credit. She entered Wimbledon with the challenge of overcoming countrywoman Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Clijsters, 23, reached the semifinals in the Australian and French Opens this year, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her reach the final four at Wimbledon.

She was the No. 2 seed in Australia, but she had to bow out of her semifinal match against Amelie Mauresmo due to a sprained ankle. Still, she managed to capture the top ranking in the world shortly thereafter.

Henin-Hardenne turned Clijsters back in the French Open semifinals. The two Belgian stars met just before Wimbledon at the Eastbourne semifinals, and Henin-Hardenne won again.

Clijsters’ has been remarkably consistent over the past several years, racking up 31 singles and 11 doubles titles. However, she badly needs another Grand Slam victory in order to avoid being overshadowed by Henin-Hardenne, who has five.

CLIJSTERS HISTORY

Kim Clijsters turned pro in 1998. One year later, she made her first big splash at Wimbledon. Ranked No. 198 in the world, she upset No. 10-ranked Amanda Coetzer in the third round. Steffi Graf ended Clijsters’ run in the fourth round. She was one game away from beating Serena Williams in the U.S. Open, but Serena rallied from a 5-3 deficit in the third set for the win.

Clijsters rocketed into the Top 20 in 2000. Her biggest tournament win that year came in Leipzig, as she defeated Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Jelena Dokic and Anna Kournikova.

In 2001, Clijsters battled Jennifer Capriati in the longest third set in the history of the French Open finals. Capriati finally prevailed 12-10.

Clijsters started racking up big victories in 2002, capturing singles and doubles titles at Luxembourg. She ended the season with a dominant performance in the tour championships. Clijsters plowed through Henin and both Williams sisters to win the singles title. She lost only 14 games in those three matches.

Kim finally reached the top of her sport on Aug. 11, 2003, when a win over Lindsay Davenport in Los Angeles gave her the No. 1 ranking. She simultaneously held the top doubles ranking with Ai Sugiyama.

Clijsters started 2004 with a 14-1 record, but she was slowed by ankle and wrist injuries. She bounced back in 2005 to win nine championships, including the U.S. Open title after wins over Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Mary Pierce.

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