LONDON (Reuters) - Kim Clijsters will not have played a match in almost two months when she returns at the French Open but if anyone can make a big impression after a lengthy absence the Belgian can.
She won the U.S. Open in 2009 only three tournaments into her comeback from a two-year break to have a child, stunning the tennis world by her nonchalance in effortlessly picking up where she had left off.
Her chances of success at Roland Garros could be just as high given the dearth of top talent in the women’s tennis, which has got worse since her original comeback, with Venus and Serena Williams and Dinara Safina missing through injury.
How fit she will be, though, remains to be seen after the world number two injured her ankle at her cousin’s wedding having previously had problems with her shoulder and wrist.
“I will be able to take part as long as I have some very tight strapping on my ankle,” she said in a statement.
Her determination to return for the clay grand slam (May 23-June 5) springs partly from the fact she has never won in Paris with two runners-up spots her best result.
The 27-year-old is also running out of time to seal victory in Paris given she has indicated she will probably quit the game for good next year.
All this suggests she will play even if only 80 percent fit and, with no one dominating a lacklustre women’s game at the moment, that might be enough to see her through.
She expounded her love for Roland Garros when the French tennis federation was voting earlier this year about possibly moving the tournament to the Paris suburbs from 2016.
“I can say ‘Look I played at that arena, at Roland Garros’. That will be nice. Younger generations might not have that,” she told Reuters.
Officials decided to stick with an expanded Roland Garros and now Clijsters must try to quickly recapture her own best form after a promising start to the season when she briefly overtook Caroline Wozniacki at the top of the rankings.
Her serve has often been shaky but her coolness under pressure and consistent hitting often gets her out of trouble.
It will count for nothing, though, if her injury curse strikes again but luckily for the Belgian she has no more wedding invites on the horizon.