Wildcard Winner

Sep 14, 2009

Kim Clijsters proved that motherhood doesn’t mean the end to anything, blasting her way through the US Open competition all the way to the finals and then, last night, taking the title with both hands from Caroline Wozniacki.

The heights of Clijsters achievement will not have gone unnoticed to even the most disinterested of sports fans. Firstly, she’s come back to the tournament after a grand total of two years out. Two years in tennis years is like human to dog years; the body can really get out of shape in two years. On top of that, during those two years Clijsters became the mother of a beautiful little girl Jada, who joined Clijsters on the court after the final to come and pat the top of the trophy approvingly, officially confirming that her mother’s decision to come back to the game was a good one.

It was Clijsters who warned Roger Federer that becoming a parent will change everything about him, his game, his world. I doubt back then she expected to be raising a grand slam trophy as a wildcard (the first woman to do so at a grand slam), on her first tournament since returning from retirement only months previously and as a mother to an 18 month old daughter (the first woman to do so since 1980 when Evonne Goolagong Cawley achieved a title as a mother).

The match itself was a straight sets victory – barring a few nervy moments where her opponent overtook her – over Caroline Wozniacki, who looked almost as pleased for Clijsters as the Belgian did herself. The support for Clijsters from players and fans alike has spurred on the fairytale story that, over the past fortnight, has been playing out at Flushing Meadows.

Clijsters went through some tough competition, including the two favourites the Williams’ sisters, carrying the wildcard status with her as a medallion, rather than a burden. Playing as the underdog does wonders to a players confidence.

To be able to drop to her knees after winning match point in her first tournament since coming back from retirement, and sharing the glory with her family and friends on court was validation for past decisions. There can’t be much that compares to that feeling.

Congratulations to both Wozniacki and Clijsters. The future looks bright for both players, with Wozniacki only nineteen and with the same kind of determination as her old opponent to blast through the higher ranks.

My my, what a refreshing women’s tournament it’s been. There’s been no Serena/Venus final, the top seeds have all gone in spectacularly wonderful style by the new blood, and things are looking up for general interest in the women’s side of the sport. At the beginning of the year it was flailing, struggling to pull much excitement and a bit of a snooze fest. Now the likes of Wozniacki, Clijsters and Oudin making a name for themselves. But I suppose it’s whether this can carry over to the Australian Open in January 2010, maybe then we can take a proper review of a year of women’s tennis.

 

- SophieG

 

Written by: SophieG

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