at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Former world number one Kim Clijsters believes her recent injury problems prove she is right to finally call a halt to her illustrious career.
Clijsters confirmed last month that she will retire for the second time after the US Open later this year and the 29-year-old has no regrets as she battles to recover from an abdominal injury in time to appear at Wimbledon.
The Belgian's preparations for the grass-court grand slam, which gets underway on Monday, were hampered when she strained a muscle during the s-Hertogenbosch tournament and was forced to pull out before her scheduled semi-final.
Clijsters is confident she will be fit to appear at Wimbledon, but she also missed the French Open due to a hip injury.
Feeling her body creaking under the strain of life on the gruelling WTA Tour has convinced Clijsters Ä who initially retired in 2007 Ä that she has made the correct decision to quit before the pain gets any worse.
Asked if she had any thoughts about changing her mind, Clijsters said: “No, this is it. I have no regrets. I'm too old to play the game that I want to play physically.
“It's not for family reasons, it's down to the physical side. I've put my body through enough strain and everything.
“The whole lifestyle, that's what I'm dealing with now, the lifestyle I've had for the last 15, 20 years.
“But it's been an incredible adventure these last three, four years.
“I feel like I've been able to kind of finish that chapter of my tennis year on a good note.”
By the time Clijsters returned to the tour in 2009, she had become a mother to daughter Jada and many critics claimed she would struggle to compete at the highest level.
But she defied the doubters to win the US Open in 2009 and 2010, while also lifting the Australian Open title in 2011.
Wimbledon also retains a special place in her heart, even though she has never reached the final at the All England Club.
It is the personal memories and the history of the event that will make her farewell appearances at the grand slam and then the Olympics, which are also being played at Wimbledon, such emotional moments.
“The place has a big history for me personally, being there as a junior, playing junior finals. Just everything, the whole atmosphere of staying at a house with family and friends,” said Clijsters, who will play Jelana Jankovic in the first round here.
“I remember there were situations when I was playing juniors when we waited for three days to play because of rain.
“My dad was sitting on a bench in the rain for three days just waiting in case I would go on.
“So there's just a lot of history and tennis wise, I love the atmosphere that hangs around the courts. You don't feel that vibe in any other Grand Slam. That's what makes this so unique.”
Clijsters has yet to make firm post-retirement plans, but she is keen to have another child, while also retaining some links with the sport that transformed her life.
“I haven't really thought about that yet. My husband and I, we'd like to expand our family. We would like to have more kids, then we'll see from there,” she said.
“I own a tennis facility in Belgium that we're renovating at the moment.
“That's going to be a place where I'm going to be spending a lot of time, and I look forward to that.” – Sapa-AFP