2009/09/14 23:33







NEW YORK, NY, USA - She only returned to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour a few weeks ago but Kim Clijsters didn't take long to become a Grand Slam champion again, capping an unbelievable two weeks on Sunday night with a straight set win over Caroline Wozniacki for the 2009 US Open title.

Clijsters, who retired from the Tour in May 2007, returned last month for two US Open lead-up events in Cincinnati and Toronto, performing impressively at them both. But no one would have guessed she'd win in her first Grand Slam back.

She did just that, and as an unranked wildcard no less, seeing as it takes three tournaments to obtain a Tour ranking. Clijsters had a few struggles, being pushed to three by Marion Bartoli in the second round and Venus Williams in the fourth round, but she didn't lose a set apart from that, including a dramatic 64 75 win over Serena Williams in the semifinals - in which Williams was given a point penalty on match point due to a tirade directed at a lineswoman - and the Wozniacki win, rallying from 4-2 down in the first set to prevail, 75 63.

Clijsters, who was playing Wozniacki for the very first time, dropped to her knees and cried tears of joy after hitting an overhead winner on match point.

"This has been so exciting for me. It wasn't really part of the plan. I just wanted to play these three tournaments and get used to all of the surroundings again. I want to thank the USTA for giving me a wildcard here," Clijsters said to Mary Joe Fernandez during the on-court trophy presentation. "Caroline is such a great fighter. Women's tennis should be proud to have such a great girl playing.

"Coming back here was a great feeling. The support I got helped me keep going and fighting. It really helps. It's a great pleasure to play in front of you guys.

"We tried to plan Jada's nap time a little later so she could be here tonight. It's the greatest feeling in the world, being a mother. I want to spend the next few weeks with her and go through the normal routine. I'm looking forward to going back and living the family life again for a little while."

Clijsters collected her second Grand Slam singles title, having won at this venue in 2005 as well. Having given birth to Jada during her retirement, she is also the first mother since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon 29 years ago to win a major. She is the first wildcard to win a major. The longshot tag was designed for Clijsters at the 2009 US Open - but everyone knew she was a threat.

Wozniacki had never been to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam before these two weeks; now she is a Grand Slam finalist, and what a fortnight she had, becoming Denmark's first major finalist in the Open Era, male or female. Her smile and grace won her many, many new fans in the Big Apple.

"I wouldn't have made it this far without all of you guys," Wozniacki said. "Kim is such a great girl. I'm so excited she came back. Unfortunately she beat me today, but she played a great match and deserves this trophy."

I can't believe this happened'

In New York Kim Clijsters won her second Grand Slam title. And this hardly a month after her comeback. Obviously she felt great afterwards.

"I still can't believe it", the 26-year Belgian said afterwards. "I'm very happy that I was able to defend my 2005 title successfully", she smiled.

"Of course I would like to thank the American Tennis Association (USTA) for offering me this wildcard for the tournament. Despite the fact I have quite some experience, I was quite nervous in the last couple of games", Clijsters continued.

"When I played my first match at the US Open two weeks ago, everybody was so warm. The audience here is truly great. It has a special and nice feeling to it and helps me stay focused and get through the more difficult moments", she added.

Clijsters also had encouraging words for her opponent. "Caroline is a real fighter. The WTA should be happy that a player like her is on the circuit right now. Keep up the good work, Caroline", according to Clijsters.

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