Kim Clijsters stuns tennis world with shock comeback announcement

Kim Clijsters 2009 US Open Getty

The decision marks Clijsters' second return to the sport after first retiring in 2007.

Justine Henin - Clijsters' old rival and compatriot - retired for the first time in 2008 when on top of the WTA rankings, returning to action the year after when she saw Clijsters' US Open triumph, and retiring again in 2011 due to injury.

En route to the title, Clijsters defeated Venus Williams, Li Na, Serena Williams, and Caroline Wozniacki to capture her the second major title of her career and becoming the first mother win a major title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.

"That to me would be my challenge, as of right now", Clijsters said. Speaking on the WTA Insider podcast, Clijsters said she was working on getting her fitness back over tennis so far.

Clijsters said she has been considering a return to the tour for the past two years. She will need to play three tournaments or earn 10 ranking points to re-establish a ranking.

She is planning to return to the match court at the start of next season, adding: "While there is a lot of work ahead of me in the next four months, my biggest motivation is the personal challenge involved - both physically and mentally, I want to test myself again". "I'm surprised how, at times when I'm going through a rough practice, how easy it is for me to stick with it and to fight through it and to push through it".

She then called time on her career again in 2012, and went on to have two more children Jack and Blake.

WTA rules allow her, as a past Grand Slam champion, to receive unlimited wild-card invitations to tournaments and, as someone who is older than 30, to opt out of mandatory appearances at certain events. I know in four years, I'm not going to be able to do this.

Reacting to the news, WTA Chairman Steve Simon was pleased to welcome Clijsters back onto the tour.

Legendary Belgian tennis player Kim Clijsters, who retired from professional tennis seven years ago, has announced a comeback at the age of 36.

"Driven by her love for the sport, this wonderful champion continues to inspire women and men in all walks of life - and she only adds to the compelling wealth of talent in women's tennis".

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