Belgium’s Kim Clijsters went from a player with no ranking to 19th in the world with her spectacular comeback victory at the U.S. Open.
Fourteen competitive matches since ending her two-year absence from the professional ranks, Clijsters became the envy of all those tennis players who toil away for years by reaching the top 20 in the new WTA rankings published on Monday.
Clijsters, who rose to world No. 1 in August 2003 and won her only previous grand slam event at Flushing Meadows four years ago before heading into retirement in 2007, said she had not expected her progress to be so easy.
With her win at this year’s US Open, Kim Clijsters has qualified for an invitation to the 2010 BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup. Pending her acceptance, Clijsters will join Serena Williams (Australian Open/Wimbledon) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (French Open), who have already qualified. The fourth player will be named in the next several weeks and will come from a list of former Grand Slam winners or world No. 1 players.
The BNP Paribas Showdown on March 1, which is part of “Tennis Night in America,” will bring together the 2009 Women’s Grand Slam winners or world No. 1 players, vying for $1.2 million in prize money and the Billie Jean King Cup.
“Mentally I really had to just tell myself: ‘OK, Kim, you’re starting from zero here’,” the 26-year-old Belgian told reporters after her 7-5, 6-3 triumph over Dane Caroline Wozniacki in New York on Sunday.
A first-round loss in New York would have seen her ranked around 181st, the WTA said on Monday, after creditable performances in her comeback events in Cincinnati and Toronto.
However, after steamrolling her way to the U.S. Open title, eclipsing both Williams sisters en route, the affable Belgian was propelled into the world’s top 20.