Kim Clijsters: “This is Probably My Last Full Season That I’ll Be Playing”
Kim Clijsters defeated Li Na 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to capture the 2011 Australian Open women’s title Saturday evening in Melbourne.
Q. Will you be back to defend the title next year?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I hope so.
Q. A tear in your eye at the end of the match. How emotional was your fourth Grand Slam win?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, they’re all emotional. Obviously, you know, I think what overwhelms me is that it’s so intense up until, you know, that last shot, and then all of a sudden it’s finished. Then it’s just like a big relief.
Yeah, you know, the disbelief maybe a little bit too it’s over and that I was able to turn it around is what makes it all so special.
Q. How did you turn it around?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I mean, she did everything better than me in that first set. I mean, obviously her groundstrokes were heavier, deeper. She served better. She returned better.
So I think, you know, she was playing really, really well probably the best that I’ve ever played against her, or that she played against me.
I tried to just, you know, think after that first set, you know, like, What can I do differently so I can maybe break her rhythm a little bit, try to make her think out there a little bit more? So I tried to mix it up a little bit, put some slices in, also hit a few higher shots that, you know, kind of just made her make some unforced errors.
Yeah, I saw her get a little bit aggravated, and just tried to hang in there.
Q. Was there anything you picked up in Sydney on her game that you were able to use to your advantage tonight?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Uhm, I mean, not that I can remember. Obviously, I felt it there already that she improved her groundstrokes, that she was more consistent on her forehand side. She’s always had a very consistent backhand, and she’s always been really able to open up the court with her backhand.
In the past her forehand was her weaker shot. Now she’s improved on that as well. I felt that in Sydney, so that’s probably the main thing that I felt different to maybe the previous matches that I’ve played against her.
Q. We rarely see you so pumped up or emotional during a match. Does this one mean more than some of the others?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, I wouldn’t say more, but obviously I think ’cause it was such an intense match. I don’t think I had that in one of the Grand Slams where I’ve won. Obviously, I’ve played intense matches. Probably my first Grand Slam final at the French was a very intense one.
But to win it in this way means it a lot. I think it’s that moment that overwhelms you, where your mind has been so focused, I’m fighting every shot, running a lot of balls down, and it’s finished. That’s what makes it just nice, and I guess this big relief that kind of just, yeah, overwhelms you a little bit.
Q. This year I read that this could be your last full time year. Then I read that you want to come back and play the Olympic Games very much next year. Then that you may become a mother for the second time in 2013 and come back in 2015.
KIM CLIJSTERS: That I never said.
I do think this is probably my last full season that I’ll be playing. I also would like to try and keep going until the Olympics. I’ve never played the Olympics, which is in a year and a half time, or a little under a year and a half. Yeah, so and then we’ll see after that.
But, uhm, when I started, started again, I kind of had the Olympics in my mind. I wanted to try to keep going till then. I obviously never expected things to be going so well so quickly. I thought it was going to take a little bit more time to get back into the rhythm or get back into my routine of traveling with a family and everything.
But, no, I mean, the first two were probably right that you read, and the next two of having a baby is probably right, too. But then coming back, that one’s not right (laughter).
Q. How do you explain these Grand Slam wins to your daughter? Does she understand what you’ve done tonight?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no, which is fine obviously. I mean, to her it really doesn’t matter. I mean, she’s always excited. Although when she saw the trophy, she was like, Who is that trophy for? And then she’s like, Did you win that? I’m like, Yeah.
I mean, to her, she knows I play tennis, but that’s it. She doesn’t know everything else that comes with it, winning, losing. You know, obviously, I mean, she’s seen me like a little bit disappointed and stuff.
She asks, Why are you disappointed? I explain to her that I lost. But, I mean, it’s not a big deal for her.
Q. Li Na said she felt like she was playing in Belgium tonight.
KIM CLIJSTERS: Really?
Q. Because of the support for you. Did you feel that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No. I mean, there was a lot of support, but I think it was nicely divided. I think there was obviously a lot of Chinese or Asian people out there that wanted to live this moment with her. And I felt that support, too.
But it was nice. I think it was nice to see that culture in this sport, because obviously over the years, I mean, it’s been America, it’s been Europe, it’s all been very kind of divided between those two continents.
It’s nice to kind of see that Asia is, yeah, starting to and especially China is starting to get recognized in this sport, too.
Q. Before your comeback you didn’t go into the Grand Slams as the out and out favorite. The last two you have and you’ve won. Can you talk about contending with that feeling?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I mean, I’ve always not always. Obviously, the last few years that I was playing, when I was No. 1 or top 3, I’ve always been kind of one of the players that could win it.
When I was younger, it kind of overwhelmed me a little bit. The pressure or the nerves that I put upon myself got sometimes in the way of what I was trying to do out there and what I had to focus on.
I think now that I’m a little bit older, I mean, with all due respect, a lot of things that are being said in here or that, you know, the pressure leaves as soon as I leave through that door. I think I was able to do that throughout this week, too.
I mean, I know how hard it is to stay fit throughout two weeks, to try and be focused, and to try to not have a bad day like I had last year here. You have to just try to stay really focused. There’s a lot of other players who will try and achieve the same thing.
I was able to do that really well, try to just focus on what I have to do out there, try to focus on trying to be the best Kim out there and not worry about the impact or the favorite role. I mean, that’s not going to make me play better or play worse. I just have to try and focus on tennis.
Q. Tonight when you played the higher balls, eight times you made eight points. Why since you know her you didn’t start since the first set with your experience? Were you somehow tense or you didn’t think?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I felt she’s never really played this well against me, like she did in that first set, obviously. In Sydney, obviously the impact I think is a little bit different. But here, I mean, yeah, you just try to find a solution. I felt I was hitting the ball well. I felt that I was moving well. Every time I just felt that my shots weren’t hurting her.
So I, yeah, just tried to mix it up a little bit. You know, in the past I’ve beaten her. Sometimes it was a tougher match. I think once in Sydney was a tough three setter a few years ago. But then also at the US Open I’d beaten her a couple times in like straighter sets.
Yeah, I mean, I was able to do that well. I was able to play at this moment, try to change things. I think I did that really well today.
Q. What happened to your teeth at the airport?
KIM CLIJSTERS: To my tooth? Yeah, it chipped off. That’s what happened. I was eating a rice cracker, actually, nothing hard. Just a nice, soft rice cracker. I thought there was like a piece of rice that that wasn’t cooked well or something, and I just spat it out. I felt my tooth not being there completely, so I was like, Oh, boy.
Yes, went to the dentist very quickly.
Q. Are you going to name the mystery dentist?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I actually don’t remember his name. He was somewhere near Chapel Street.
Q. All in all, there were 13 service breaks. What do you think happened to your serve?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Uhm, I think now, you know, a lot of girls return a lot better. You know, you do feel the pressure to serve very well. And I think a lot of times that’s something that has been my problem, or probably one of my weaknesses, is that I don’t always that I have the intensity of not finishing my serve, full service motion. Because I know she’s a good returner. I know she was putting a lot of pressure on me with her first shot.
So I kind of was already, in a way, before I even landed, thinking, Right, okay, get ready for the next shot. I think that’s the wrong attitude to have with your serve. I mean, the whole movement has to be completely finished for your serve to have a great impact.
So, again, I was able to, you know, try to make a few more first serves in the second and third set. She made some easier mistakes, and that gave me more and more confidence throughout the end of the second and the third set.
Q. How did your legs feel?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I took an ice bath just before to try to get a quick flush of all the tension and everything that was put on my legs and the hips and everything.
No, I felt good. Probably tomorrow morning I’ll feel it a little bit more.
Q. Would Li Na hit the ball as hard as Serena Williams at her best?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think Serena like hits the winners harder. You know what I mean? Like if you hit a higher shot, I mean, she can produce so much power, you know, with the serve, and then also out of the blue like that. I think Serena definitely hits the ball harder.
But I think on a consistent kind of level, I do think she’s definitely one of the players up there who hits, you know, a very, very heavy and hard shot.
Q. How big of a goal is it to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon? Are you playing for different things other than just major titles? Just for the love of competing, or would you really like to get those two other slams?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Look, of course. I mean, I’m not going to sit here and be like, No, that wouldn’t be nice. But to be honest, I really haven’t thought about it. It’s a little early I think to already think ahead, focus on those kind of things.
I’ve been really focused on this last month, you know, two months, to try and be ready for the Australian summer. And now I kind of just need a break from that whole, like, goals and preparing and all that.
But, no, obviously the French is a Grand Slam where, you know, I would like to do well, as well. All of them, of course. But, uhm, again, yeah, I’m just excited that I won this one. Like I said, not really thinking in those kind of ways yet.
That will probably happen after Fed Cup when I’m done and home for a few weeks. I’m playing Paris. Once after that, I’ll probably have time to sit together with the team and kind of just relook at the whole kind of schedule for later this year.
Q. What does it mean to finally win a Grand Slam outside New York?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Uhm, it’s nice. Obviously, I mean, you know, if I could win another US Open it would also be nice.
But, no, I do enjoy this win, especially here in Australia, as well. It’s been a country where I’ve always loved coming to and where I’ve always been very well received.
Yeah, I’ve been close to doing well, you know, a few years in a row, so it’s nice to finally get it this year.
Q. You had a great speech after the win. It was funny and well said. I’d like to know if you had to think much before when you started, or it came out like that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, it just comes out.
Q. The Aussie Kim was just like that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, yeah. Actually, I forgot to thank my doctor. I feel really bad about that. ‘Cause, yeah, I mean, he’s helped me out a lot. I’ve had a lot of problem with my feet and blisters, so I kind of regret that. So I was like, I wish I could do it over and just add him.
But, no, everything, there’s nothing prepared at all. I just, yeah.
Q. Will you be wearing green for the rest of the year in the Grand Slams?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no. There’s some more, some new and different outfits coming, but that will bring a lot of people’s memories back to some ex Fila players.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
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