Four-time major champion Kim Clijsters is set to make her second comeback next week in Dubai. With that in mind, let's take a trip down memory lane, at the last time the 2017 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee returned to the WTA tour.
Throwing down the gauntlet
Playing her first tournament in 28 months, the unranked Clijsters ousted world No. 13 Marion Bartoli to launch her second stint in August 2009 at Cincinnati. The wild card would add wins over No. 20 Patty Schnyder and sixth-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova, the reigning French Open champion, before falling to top-ranked Dinara Safina in the quarterfinals. A week later, she secured two more wins, including one over Top 10 player Victoria Azarenka.
Hitting a Grand Slam
In a dream Grand Slam homecoming, Clijsters became the first mother in 39 years to lift a major singles trophy. Her run included a second win over Bartoli, before earning a topsy-turvy victory over world No. 3 Venus Williams. Clijsters ended Li Na’s bid in the quarterfinals, before upstaging Serena Williams in a controversial ending seen ‘round the world. Clijsters outclassed Caroline Wozniacki in the final and memorably shared her trophy presentation with daughter Jada.
Queen of the hard courts
A year later, Clijsters emerged as the hard-court player to beat after winning five tournaments. During her title runs, she twice defeated Venus and countrywoman Justine Henin, who came out of retirement at the start of the 2010 season in Brisbane. Clijsters successfully defended her title at Flushing Meadows, avenging a pair of defeats to Vera Zvonavera in the final. The Russian would return the favor in the Belgian’s opener at the WTA Finals, but Clijsters ran off four consecutive wins to end the year on a high.
Happy Slamming her way to No. 1
A fan favorite for years at Melbourne Park, “Aussie Kim” finally tasted victory at a major outside of New York. Clijsters didn’t drop a set en route to the title match, posting wins over Agnieszka Radwanska and world No. 2 Zvonareva. Her final opponent, Li Na, topped Clijsters to win the pre-tournament Sydney crown, and two weeks later took the first set in the Australian Open final. Li also had plenty of support behind her, but a determined Clijsters dug in to win in three. Shortly thereafter, for one week, Clijsters returned to the top of the WTA rankings for the first time in nearly five years.
Goodbye doesn't mean forever...
As injuries began to creep in and having a desire to expand her family, Clijsters announced that the 2012 US Open would be her final tournament. She came in at full strength, entering three different events. There was no Cinderella story this time, as she was upset by Laura Robson in the second round, and lost her doubles opener with Kirsten Flipkens. Teaming up with Bob Bryan, she shared one winning chest bump with the lefty before the two were stopped by eventual mixed doubles champions Ekaterina Makraova and Bruno Soares in the second round. At the time, Clijsters said, “It’s surprising that I’ve kept it dry and I haven’t been crying or anything. And that’s another sign that it’s the right choice.”