Kim & Kirsten: A Little Help From My Friends
Published October 17, 2012 12:00
LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Not a lot of players have been able to stop her lately, and now that might be an even harder task given the secret weapon she just revealed - Kirsten Flipkens has Kim Clijsters in her corner now.
Well, Clijsters was always in her corner, in a way - but now that the former World No.1 doesn't have her own career to worry about, she will be coming to a few tournaments to help her good friend and fellow Belgian Flipkens.
"She's not my coach, but she knows how to help me and what I need before and after a match, and she's going to come to some tournaments with me," Flipkens said from Luxembourg. "Her family comes first, so we'll see where it's possible and where it's not, but I'm happy she'll be helping me wherever she can."
The two Belgians have known each other for a very, very long time.
"I've known her for 20 years - she has always been a little bit like my bigger sister, always taking care of me and trying to help me," Flipkens said. "We grew up in the same tennis school when we were younger. I was six or seven years old when I met her. Our moms are very good friends too, and I also grew up with her sister, Elke. It's amazing - I'm glad our friendship lasted this long.
"To everyone else she's Kim the tennis player, but to me she's Kim."
It has only been a few weeks since Flipkens had what she herself described as the best day of her life - winning her first WTA title at the indoor tournament in Québec City. It was the culmination of a lifetime of hard work and overcoming struggle after struggle, most recently an eight week lay-off in the spring of this year due to blood clots, as well as losing the support of her federation.
But the determined Belgian didn't give up on the dream, and in September the emotions all came out when she won in Québec. "It's everything at once. Where do I start?" she said after the final. "It's been a rough year for me. I was No.260 in June - I didn't even get into the qualies of Wimbledon - and now I have my first WTA title. You can only imagine how I'm feeling after all of this.
"This is the best day of my life."
And who was she speaking to on the phone after every match that week? None other than the one, the only Clijsters. "Kim has stuck with me through all of the rough times. She's like a big sister to me," Flipkens said then, too.
With her first round win over Sabine Lisicki in Luxembourg this week, Flipkens has now won 24 of her last 26 matches, combining WTA, WTA qualies and ITF results - and having gone into 's-Hertogenbosch in June ranked No.262, she is now ranked over 200 spots higher at a career-high No.58 in the world.
"It has been a good run in the second half of the year, but I don't know the reason for it," Flipkens said. "I've just been playing like before, and going on court just trying to do my best and enjoying my game. That's it."
And with a little help from her friends, she'll do more than just get by.