ANTWERP, Belgium - In October, Kim Clijsters was announced as the Tournament Director for the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games, which is back on the WTA calendar for the first time since 2008. And the WTA legend has been very, very busy - and very, very excited - in her new role.
"The build-up has been really fun," Clijsters said. "Being part of this side of tennis has taught me a lot. There are a lot of things you don't think about as a player, you just assume everything gets organized well and don't know all the hard work that goes into it. That's something that's definitely changed my perspective. It's really exciting to see everything we've discussed in meetings coming to life.
"It's also exciting because I have a lot of variety in my days - communicating with the players, the WTA and of course the sponsors, and I can watch some tennis too. I really like having that variety."
Speaking of players, Clijsters is particularly impressed with the tournament's No.1 seed.
"Eugenie Bouchard played so well at the Slams last year. I played the legends in Paris and saw her working out in the gym, and she had so much determination and discipline - she stood out just with that, and add to that her great results. She's just the total package for the tournament, the fans, the sponsors and everyone. I'm glad we can have her here, and that the fans can get to know her.
"I'm excited she's here. She's young and has such a great career ahead of her."
Clijsters, who won this tournament herself in 2004, is also looking forward to seeing how the four Belgians in the main draw will do - former Top 15 players Yanina Wickmayer and Kirsten Flipkens and a pair of up-and-coming Belgian stars, wildcard Alison Van Uytvanck and qualifier Klaartje Liebens.
"It's great for the tournament. When Justine and I were playing the crowds would be sold out, so having more Belgians in the draw is just great for the tournament. And it's good for the girls too. Hopefully some of them can do well here and that'll help them out for the start of the season."
One of the traditions unique to the tournament in its first incarnation, and which has returned for this reboot, is the coveted diamond racquet - anyone who wins the tournament twice in three years wins a special racquet made with 4.5 kilograms of gold and 2008 diamonds. It's worth $1.5 million.
"I've been around it a few times in the last few months," Clijsters said. "When we announced the tournament, the trophy was obviously an eye-catcher. It's a beautiful, beautiful trophy. You only take it home if you win the tournament twice in three years. So far only Amélie was able to do that.
"Maybe this year's winner will be motivated to come back next year and win it!"