Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Kim Clijsters hangs up her racket

The former U.S. Open champion and former world no:1 player, Kim Clijsters announced her retirement from international tennis last Sunday.

At the age of 23, Clijsters is one of the youngest tennis players to retire in an era when records, money or the cult of celebrity have driven many athletes to prolong their careers.

With the daily grind of keeping her body match-fit becoming more and more unbearable, she earmarked 2007 as her final season on the tour more than 20 months ago.

Her announcement did not come as a surprise especially since she did not want another injury to ruin her wedding to American basketball player Brian Lynch in July.

Clijsters earned nearly $15 million in prize money, during a ten year career.

Explaining why she decided to quit, the popular player said, "Money is important, but not the most important thing in my life," she added. "Health and a private life are so much more important."

Her glowing smile and friendliness has always drawn her admirers, but it has also led many to say she lacked the killer instinct and the mean attitude needed to win more slams.

She goes into retirement at the top of her game as she is currently ranked fourth in the world. She also has left the 10,000,000 plus inhabitants of Belgium with a lasting legacy after helping the country to win their first Fed Cup title in 2001.

Looking back on her career, commentators say that she believed in a fair go for everybody. She fought hard in every match but would still applaud with her racquet when an opponent hit a great shot.

While she will be remembered for her tennis, it is her courtesy and dignity that place her above many athletes.

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