London - Fifteen years into her career and just months from retiring for a second time, Belgium's Kim Clijsters does not come across many new experiences in tennis but playing in the Olympics will be one of them.
The former world number one, who missed Beijing in 2008 after retiring a year earlier to have her daughter, plays the opening match on Wimbledon's court two on Saturday against Italy's Roberta Vinci.
“You kind of feel like you are going on a school trip, when we took the train and we were all dressed the same and had our backpacks,” the 29-year-old, who plans to retire again after the U.S. Open in September, told reporters at a Belgian team briefing on Friday.
“It was fun and it was exciting, having been on tour for 15 years, to have a new experience.
“I look forward to just getting to feel what the Olympic atmosphere is like. I am not really thinking about retirement until I have come to that. I am still here because I want to do well and I want to play good tennis.”
The four-time grand slam winner, who never reached the Wimbledon final, bid farewell to the tournament for the last time three weeks ago with a fourth-round defeat by Germany's Angelique Kerber.
But she is looking forward to being back at the famous venue, even if the Games facelift took a bit of getting used to.
“I have to say these first few days were a bit of an adjustment looking around and seeing everything that Wimbledon had, the tradition and the history, is gone for the Olympics but it is a great place to be,” she said at the home of grass court tennis.
“I know if I play good tennis and I stay healthy then I am capable of beating all of the good players out there but it is a matter of trying to raise your level on the important moments and the big matches.” – Reuters