Eventually, everybody has to say goodbye. For 4-time Major singles champion Kim Clijsters, the desire to move on to the next phase of her life convinced her that the 2012 US Open was the right time to bid farewell to the WTA Tour. In the second round, against up and coming Laura Robson, the clock finally struck midnight on a Hall of Fame career that saw Kimmie win 41 tournaments and reach the #1 ranking in both singles and doubles, at one time simultaneously. Although she is still in the doubles and mixed doubles draw, the end of her singles career felt like her finale.
But Clijsters’ career isn’t just about numbers. Sure, she has all the statistics she needs to earn a place in Newport, Rhode Island in five years when she is Hall of Fame eligible. That’s only part of her legacy as a player. She was one of the most liked, if not THE most liked, players in the locker room. She was accessible to other players and to the fans. She was able to fiercely battle on court and be beloved off court. She made time to guide younger players, even though they were also her competitors. She is a 3-time winner of the WTA Player Service Award which recognizes a player that does the most to help fellow players through WTA initiatives. She also is holds a record 7 wins as of the WTA Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award. No other player even comes close to that record. And to put an exclamation on how much she was respected by fellow players, she probably would have won the Sportsmanship and Player Service awards even more time if she wasn’t out with her first mini-retirement and various injuries. Winning never was in the way of being kind and giving back to the game. Even the player that beat her in her final match, Laura Robson, was a co-professional of a youth clinic with Kim at this year’s Wimbledon.
In the end, the 2-time WTA Player of the Year in singles came into the game with a smile on her face and will leave with one as well. Always gracious in victory or defeat, she stands as an example that you don’t have to be “a jerk” as Cliff Drysdale said, to be a champion. This is an especially relevant lesson for tennis players. This is my favorite sport, but I’d have to be the first to admit that tennis players have often…and still do often…exhibit poor behavior on court and are not always good examples of sportsmanship. This is not to deify Kimmie as having a flawless temperment. But she, unlike some of her other fellow players, was one to conduct herself as an adult whether things went her way or not. She didn’t engage in gamesmanship, even if it might have helped her in some matches. I could go on and on about Kimmie, but instead here is a list of some of her many accomplishments via Wikipedia. Thanks for the memories, Kimmie. Best wishes always.
- Clijsters became the first person from Belgium to reach a Grand Slam singles final in the Open Era.
- Clijsters became not only the first Belgian—man or woman—to be ranked world no. 1, but also did so without winning a Grand Slam tournament. Clijsters is one of only six women to have been ranked world no. 1 in singles and doubles simultaneously (the others being Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis, Serena Williams, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, and Lindsay Davenport).
- Clijsters compiled a 90–12 singles record. Her singles win total was the highest single-season total by any woman since Navratilova in 1982. Clijsters was the first woman to play more than 100 singles matches in a year since Chris Evert in 1974.
- Following Clijsters’s victory in the US Open Series and the subsequent US Open, she collected US$2.2 million in prize money, the largest single purse ever won by a female athlete. To that date, she held a North American hardcourt win-loss record of 36–1.
- Clijsters had a 22-match winning streak from August to October. During the streak, she won tournaments in Los Angeles, Toronto and Luxembourg, and the US Open.
- First player ever to win the WTA Player of the Year Award in the same year of winning the WTA Come Back Player of the Year trophy
- In returning to the World No. 1 ranking after the Australian Open in January, Clijsters broke a rankings record. She was ranked as low as World No. 134 in March 2005, so her return to the top spot in a ten-month span was the fastest and biggest leap in women’s tennis history.
- Third unseeded and first unranked female champion of a Grand Slam title by winning the 2009 US Open. Clijsters also became the first mother to win a major since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won the Wimbledon title in 1980, and the first mother to win the US Open since Margaret Court in 1973. She defeated Danish Caroline Wozniacki 7–5, 6–3 in the US Open final.
- Returned to WTA rankings at number 19, equaling the highest debut ever that was set by Andrea Jaeger in 1980.
- Won the WTA Come Back Player of the Year trophy despite only playing three months effectively.
- First woman to retain the US Open title since Venus Williams in 2001.
- Second woman in the Open Era to win three successive US Opens in which she played (she did not play in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 tournaments). Chris Evert won four U.S. Open Championships in a row:(1975–1978)and two additional titles in 1980 and 1982 for a total of six U.S. Opens. Martina Navratilova reached the final after two successive wins in 1985, but lost the third final to Hana Mandlíková. Steffi Graf reached the finals after two consecutive wins in 1990, but lost the third final to Gabriela Sabatini.
- 21 consecutive US Open match victories, second all-time to Chris Evert’s 31 from 1975–1979.
- Third woman to win two Grand Slams as a mother, one shy of the record by Margaret Court.
- Repeated her own 2005 feat of earning a women’s sport record paycheck of approximately US$2.2 million by winning the US Open, after ending the US Open Series as second after Caroline Wozniacki.
- Won the Masters (WTA Tour Championships) for the third time joining a very select group of players, consisting of Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf.
- Broke the US$20 million mark in career prize money at the same Masters.
- Became WTA year prize money leader with more than US$5 million in earnings
- First player ever to win the WTA Player of the Year Award in the year following the win of the WTA Come Back Player of the Year trophy (see also 2005) Both Serena Williams (2004–2008) and Amélie Mauresmo (2003–2006) became Player of the Year after having been the Comeback Player of the Year but they did not achieve this feat in consecutive years.
- Became most time winner of the Karen Krantzcke WTA award for fair play (7)
- Inflicted the first time ever double bagel loss at a Grand Slam since the start of the open era on a former World No. 1 player – Dinara Safina – during the first round of the Australian Open.
- By becoming Australian Open champion, completed a consecutive winning string of the four most important hardcourt tournaments within a year: Miami Masters (“The Fifth Slam”) 2010, US Open 2010, WTA Tour Championships 2010 and the Australian Open 2011. Steffi Graf (November 1987–1988 ) and Monica Seles in 1991 had accomplished this series before.
- Equalling the record of Margaret Court of winning three Grand Slams as a mother
- Received for the third time a women’s sport record paycheck of approximately US$2.2 million by winning the Australian Open
- Became number 1 in the WTA rankings for the fourth time in her career on 14 February 2011 after the 2011 Open GDF Suez in Paris, nearly five years after being at the No. 1 spot in early 2006. It is also the first time Clijsters is number one in the same calendar year of winning a Grand Slam.
- Became the first mother to hold the number 1 ranking since the inception of the computer rankings in 1975.
- Ranked 16 on the Time Top 100 list of most influential people, the first sports person on the 2011 listing.
- Belgian Sportswoman of the Year
- Flemish Giant Award
- ITF World Champion
- WTA Tour Championships Race winner
- US Open Series Winner
- Belgian Sportswoman of the Year
- International Tennis Writers Association (ITWA) Player of the Year
- International Tennis Writers Ambassador for Tennis
- WTA Player of the Year
- WTA Player of the Year (for 2005)
- WTA Comeback Player of the Year (for 2005)
- Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award (for 2005)
- Member of the Belgian Sporting Team of the Year (Fed Cup – Team)
- Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award (for 2006)
- Laureus World Comeback of the Year (For 2009)
- WTA Comeback Player of the Year (for 2009)
- Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award (for 2009)
- Best Comeback Athlete ESPY Award (for 2009)
- VTV Tennis Performance of the Year
- Flemish Giant Award
- Belgian Sportswoman of the Year
MORE MEDIA FROM DAY THREE OF 2012 US OPEN
Singles – Second Round
(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (Q) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 62 62
(3) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. Lourdes Domínguez Lino (ESP) 60 61
(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Alizé Cornet (FRA) 64 63
(7) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. (Q) Edina Gallovits-Hall (ROU) 63 60
(9) Li Na (CHN) d. Casey Dellacqua (AUS) 64 64
(11) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Romina Oprandi (SUI) 62 16 75
(15) Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 63 46 62
(WC) Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. (17) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 61 62
(19) Nadia Petrova (RUS) d. Simona Halep (ROU) 61 61
Laura Robson (GBR) d. (23) Kim Clijsters (BEL) 76(4) 76(5)
Pauline Parmentier (FRA) d. (25) Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 76(5) 63
(28) Zheng Jie (CHN) d. (Q) Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 63 61
(31) Varvara Lepchenko (USA) d. (Q) Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) 62 62
Anna Tatishvili (GEO) d. Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 67(5) 61 62
Mandy Minella (LUX) d. (Q) Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 64 64
(WC) Mallory Burdette (USA) d. Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 62 64
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