DUBAI, UAE -- After much anticipation, former World No.1 Kim Clijsters made her comeback to the WTA at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday, after over seven years away from the professional circuit.
Drawn against another former World No.1, Garbiñe Muguruza, Clijsters fought back from a double-break down in the second set and was in the mix for the rest of the clash before losing in a close tilt against this year's Australian Open finalist, 6-2, 7-6(6).
"To know that the work we have put in, yeah, I feel like we're going in the right direction," said an optimistic Clijsters, after the match. "We're not where we want to be yet, but we're going in the right direction. That's really important."
Clijsters's superb performance against one of this season's top competitors impressed a number of her fellow women's tennis legends who sit alongside her in the International Tennis Hall of Fame:
Win or lose, a VERY impressive performance from @Clijsterskim clean ball striking and astonishing little nerves! 👏👏👏👍👍💪💪— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) February 17, 2020
@Clijsterskim sending a huge message she is ready to compete at highest level. Strong mentally, great ball striking & can’t wait to see more!— Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) February 17, 2020
She also caught the eye of Muguruza's coach -- who happens to be a Wimbledon champion who is joining Clijsters in the Hall of Fame this summer!
Overall, tennis players of the past and present were thrilled to see the four-time Grand Slam champion back in action.
Seriously so so so proud of Kim Clijsters. You inspire me. Wow. Just wow congrats you did amazing.— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) February 18, 2020
So inspiring seeing @Clijsterskim back out there! We’re gonna see some good stuff!— Jan-Michael Gambill (@JanmikeGambill) February 17, 2020
@Clijsterskim showing us all what a champion does. No matter the score line is she hangs in there and now back in the match.— Rennae Stubbs (@rennaestubbs) February 17, 2020
Watching @Clijsterskim rip some groundstrokes just made my day!— Shelby Rogers (@Shelby_Rogers_) February 17, 2020