The bubbliness is back, the jaunty smile is back and so are the trademark splits.
Yes, it is none other than one-half of the fiery Belgian duo—the effervescent Kim Clijsters, who is kicking off her comeback at the $2,000,000 Premier event in Cincinnati on August 10th.
The 26-year old comes back to the sport after a sabbatical of 28 months during which family had been her prime focus—which included marriage to basketball pro, Brian Lynch, giving birth to daughter, Jada and also having to cope with the demise of her father.
Much has changed in her life but what has remained unaltered is the tremendous love she still has for the game even after the alienation. And that surely demands a lot of pluckiness and an unswerving motivation.
Clijsters exuded a lot of these in abundance when she took the court alongside the likes of Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi and Tim Henman during the inauguration ceremony of the Wimbledon Center-court roof.
By smartly outplaying Graf and outrallying Agassi a number of times she perhaps evidenced the fact that this is not a hasty decision and Kim is totally aware of its consequences.
For the last six months she had been incessantly training to get the opportunity of swishing the racket in a competitive tournament and here she is trying to fulfill that dream when she hits the courts in a few hours from now.
Clearly, Kim knows what she is doing but even then facing an-inform, recently-crowned Stanford champion, Marion Bartoli as early as the first round itself might not be too relishing a prospect.
The task is daunting enough but since Clijsters has no pressure to prove a point at this stage, this will indeed be a big chance to gauge her training and make the necessary changes if needed.
But what is best is definitely the timing of her comeback. It comes at a time when a battered and beleaguered WTA is in search of a saviour to alleviate its pains.
The raging debate still continues whether WTA’s decision to keep Dinara Safina as No.1 is farcical when Serena Williams has conquered last three of the four Grand Slams and Clijsters’s return will hopefully make the headlines consist of a name other than these two players for a few days.
And of course, not forgetting the huge number of admirers that Clijsters had.
This is a perfect chance for the now-lackluster WTA tennis to woo back some of its fans and try to recapture some of its lost sheen.
Kim Clijsters’s return indeed augurs well for the sport though much cannot be expected from the former Grand Slam champion right now. Much of her career she had been tagged as a "choker" especially after losing three straight Grand Slam finals to compatriot, Justine Henin before finally silencing her detractors with her U.S. Open 2005 victory.
Whether that "choker" tag is gone for good, only time will tell, but the bravery of the woman in making a comeback after the complete estrangement must indeed be lauded, for Kim herself knows that comebacks can be a very tricky affair.
Welcome back, Kim!