Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Q. What was it like walking back onto Arthur Ashe? Not that you were feeling scared, but it could be your last time.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I didn't really think about that. I was just excited to be out there and to have, you know, the opportunity to play in this kind of condition, prime time.
You know, a night match, it's always a very special occasion. The energy, when you step out on court also after the opening show, the stadium was almost full. So it was a lot of fun to go out there.
But, you know, still a bit nervous, too.
Q. Could you imagine as a 16 year old girl playing your first circuit match out opening night on Arthur Ashe against someone who has won four slams?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I can imagine, but it's been a very long time. I obviously wasn't in that position where I played my first ever match on tour on such a big stadium. I had moments when I was younger when I played Steffi at Wimbledon and she was my big idol.
So, yeah, it kind of takes you back through a lot of emotions and memories. I was talking to her before the match. It was nice in a way to kind of, yeah, get a feeling of the atmosphere from her side. I just told her, you know, that we've all been there and it's great to have these opportunities.
I think she trains in Florida at the USTA Tennis Center. I think it's great. I think she'll learn a lot from these kind of opportunities. I look forward to kind of keeping an eye on her in the future.
Q. What were your thoughts on her game and her personality?
KIM CLIJSTERS: We spoke a bit after the match, as well. She was really sweet. She's a very nice girl. You know, I think she has, you know, a good game to be out there.
Obviously, you know, it's a very overwhelming situation to be in to start off. I think in the beginning she was definitely a little bit nervous. You kind of have to get a feel for it. All of us. Even Federer.
In the beginning of the tournament you kind of have to get a feel for everything a little bit. It was pretty windy out there today as well, so that didn't make it all that easy to kind of find a good rhythm out there.
But overall I think once she settled down, I think she was pretty happy with the way that she played. So that's good to know that she's pleased with the experience.
Obviously I saw her afterwards. It was pretty funny. It was all like a lot of excitement. She had a friend in there who still plays juniors, as well. So it was kind of fun to still see the youngsters.
Q. And you asked for a photo with her?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. It's a great memory for me as well to be in the position that I was in, you know, playing somebody who, you know, followed me for most of my career. That has not really happened, I don't think, so it was nice in a way, as well.
Q. A lot of Europeans want to win Roland Garros or Wimbledon; for many Americans it's winning the US Open or becoming No. 1. If I recall correctly, you said your goal for your career is to make friends. Could you to talk about that.
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't think I said it that way. Obviously my goal in my career was obviously to be the best tennis player that I can be, but at the same time not be, you know, antisocial and not spend 15 years on tour, and when you step away from the sport not having any friends at the end of the day.
I think, you know, it's not like I started on tour when I was 25 and I built up kind of a normal friendship base when I was home. My friends were girls from tour. You know, I have a few friends at home, but I think a lot of the girls I was close with, a lot of the girls, we went through puberty together, boyfriends on tour, and I think it's something that we shared and talked about.
I don't like to be on tour and not talking to players or not knowing kind of what's behind the tennis player. It's not like it was the most important thing because I was here to play tennis, and still am. But at the same time, there's a place for work and focus and at the other times there is the social part.
Q. You mentioned Roger being out there on center court. What do you think it says about him and his career that he's at the dominant stage he is at his age?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I mean, you know, Roger is a guy who's, you know, incredible. When you talk to him, his presence, he's always polite. He feels good within himself. You can tell. That doesn't mean that he never gets nervous or that he never plays well, but he knows how to handle it.
I think, you know, his off court presence is something it's great. I'm lucky that I know him from juniors. He's stayed the same. Maybe was a little bit more crazy back then, but he's still a fun, nice guy. He likes to joke around. That hasn't changed.
I think he's been No. 1, won so many Grand Slams, broken so many records, and he's always able and will always try and help out, take pictures. I think that is something that is incredible.
Career wise I think they were talking about it during the match as well with the way that he's played, just his style is something that so unique, and is also one of the reasons why he's had so few injuries.
That's something that just, for the sport, for the younger generation to look at, for a lot of kids out there, it's a learning process to just watch him play and kind of visualize to be like him, I think just like I did when I saw Steffi play or Monica Seles.
You pick up little details here and there and you try to be just like them a little bit.
Q. Have you followed much of Laura Robson's progress?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I have. I've watched a little bit of her. I remember watching one of her junior matches, I think when she played a Belgian girl, An Sophie Mestach. I watched that.
It's not like I was constantly following her online or something, but I definitely followed her results. She's a great ball striker. I think physically I felt when she came on tour she was still able to improve a lot. When she's behind the ball, she hits the ball so clean and has a very good eye for the ball as well.
Yeah, so it's going to be very important to be going for the lines and to try to get her out of her comfort zone a little bit.
Q. I wonder whether Carl, having worked at the LTA of course when she was coming through as a youngster, whether he might've had any insight perhaps on her progress?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I think he has. I remember hitting with Laura at Wimbledon. I know that he had some kind of an influence. I don't know if it was full on. I don't think it was like a private coaching kind of job. I'm sure, you know, when he was at the LTA he had an influence there.
Like I said, I hit with her there. It was a good practice. It was fun. So, yeah, hopefully can give me some tips.
Q. You just came from the Olympics, watching different sports. Can you compare the margins in tennis to some other sports at all, a close line call that goes in or out?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I actually had an eye opening experience after the Olympics when I lost to Maria. I went back to Belgium for a few days. I went back to the athletes village on I think Wednesday or Thursday. I was doing my workouts that I got from Sam.
After one of the runs that I did, I was in the gym and I was just doing my exercises. There was a guy in there, a German guy, who did Judo. He was one of the favorites to win a medal and he actually lost first round. We just started talking. He just started saying like he's put everything in his life aside for that moment, and then he loses first round. He was at the Olympics for two minutes.
I'm actually doing my exercise at the same time thinking like, Wow, you know, we're lucky. Two weeks ago we had Wimbledon; we're at the Olympics. Within another three, four weeks we're playing the US Open.
For them, he had to rethink about his life, what's going to happen next. It was really deep like. Yeah, you know, you hear about all the great wins and everybody who wins gold and the amazing stories, but to talk to somebody who experienced the Olympics in that way was, yeah, like I said, gave me, again, another feeling of, you know, how lucky we are in our sport to kind of not be pressured.
Q. Close wins or close losses are not that bad?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Exactly. Not to have to try to focus on one event within four years almost. Yeah, that really kind of got to me actually.
Q. When you first retired, Wimbledon asked you to come and play an XO. That's what got you going. Do you think you'll have those feelings of remorse or missing the whole tennis season and its joys?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It was only till I actually started preparing again, and that was kind of like, This is fun. It's good to play. My body felt good after being rested for two years.
But I didn't really miss it at all for two years. I was so into the lifestyle that I had at home. Obviously, I helped prepare for the wedding and then we had Jada. My mind was kind of always busy, which is something that I'm going to have to do when I retire now.
I'm not the type of person that just likes to hang around and see how the day goes. I like to be active, and I want to try to have a positive influence on tennis, whether it's in Belgium or help kids in any way possible.
You know, I think that's kind of where my next role in life is. So, you know, I'll always kind of stay busy, whether it is full time in tennis and obviously at home as well.
Q. And Jada as an 18 month old in '09, what's her awareness of her mom now? Does she know you're a world class athlete?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not at all. My dad obviously wasn't in the situation that I'm in, but still, in Belgium we were always kind of in the spotlight a little bit. If we went out the dinner, the four of us, there were always people kind of looking and staring.
You know, I think in a way she thinks like, you know, kids in her class, their parents go to work, and that's how they think. That's how she thinks. That's my job, is to play tennis.
She doesn't know the impact I guess of the whole life style that we have because like I said, she was 18 [sic] when we started traveling. She talks about New York like we're at home. She's like, Mom, remember when we saw the kangaroos in Melbourne? It's great to hear a four year old talk like that, remembering things.
Then again, I also look forward to kind of giving her the normal kind of routine lifestyle without hopping on the plane every few months. Of course, I've been in a way lucky and unlucky, because with the injuries she's been able to be kind of home a lot and have her normal kind of school routine and normal life at home.
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