Belgian tennis ace Kim Clijsters’ illustrious singles career came to a close on Wednesday when the four-time Grand Slam champion lost, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5), to 18-year-old Laura Robson of Britain in the second round of the US Open.
Going into the second-round match, Clijsters, 29, was holding on to a 22-match winning streak in New York, encompassing titles in 2005, 2009, and 2010, plus Monday’s first-round victory.
The Boston Globe notes that her previous defeat at Flushing Meadows came against Belgian rival Justine Henin September 6, 2003, in the tournament final.
“Thank you first of all,” Clijsters told the crowd at Arther Ashe Stadium after being upset by Robson. “One of my biggest dreams came true in 2005 wining here. Every time I came back I was so inspired by the energy out on this court. I played some of my best tennis here and some of my greatest matches. This completely feels like the perfect place to retire.”
With 41 titles, including four major crowns, and long stretches as the number one ranked player in the world, Clijsters leaves fulfilled.
“It’s been a great adventure for my team and my family. It’s all been worth it, but I look forward to the next part of my life coming up.”
Clijsters, who previously retired in 2007, only to return two and a half years later, exits the game with a career singles record of 523-127.
Though she is also entered in the women’s doubles and mixed doubles draw at the 2012 US Open, Clijsters’ made it clear that the singles match against Robson was her last.
“I’m happy,” Clijsters said. “It’s been an incredible journey, and a lot of dreams for me have come true because of tennis … for me to have been able to have been a part of women’s tennis, and on top of women’s tennis for so many years – you don’t think about it when you’re in it; you’re kind of on automatic pilot.
“Now that I think about it, it’s been a crazy rollercoaster at times, as well.”