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Clijsters to launch comeback in Dubai

andrew hendrie /

Former World No. 1 Kim Clijsters has confirmed her comeback will take place at next week’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Clijsters, who originally declared her comeback plans late last year, will make her return at the 20th Anniversary of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which begins on February 17.

The Belgian has never played in Dubai before and is looking forward to joining a stellar field that also includes the likes of Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu, Belinda Bencic, Karolina Pliskova and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

“I am really excited to be getting back to the match court. I know it’s a special anniversary for the Dubai Duty Free Championships so it’s a honour to be making my return to the game and debut in Dubai at the same time,” Clijsters said.

“I can’t wait to return to the game I love and play in front of the fans again – the support and encouragement that I’ve received since the announcement has been overwhelming.” 

Clijsters initially wanted to launch her comeback during last month’s Australian summer of tennis, but she suffered a knee injury in November that ultimately forced her to abandon those plans.

However, the 36-year-old has since regained her fitness and after hitting with the Belgian Fed Cup team last week, will officially return to the court in Dubai.

Clijsters retired for the first time in 2007 but returned to win three Grand Slams as a mother, including a memorably U.S. Open in 2009 when she was unranked.

A winner of four majors in total and a former World No. 1, Clijsters retired again in 2012, playing her last match at the U.S. Open.

Now a mother of three, Clijsters has spent the last seven years focusing on her academy in Belgium, but after watching a number of her peers playing late into their 30s, she felt compelled to give tennis another crack.

As a former World No. 1, Clijsters is eligible to receive unlimited wildcards as she plots her path up the rankings. After Dubai, she is scheduled to play Monterrey, Indian Wells and Volvo Car Open on the green clay of Charleston.

“It is a great honour for us that Kim Clijsters has chosen to begin the third phase of her career here in Dubai,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.

“Her decision reflects the very high esteem in which the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is held, and it will be fascinating to see how far she will be able to progress against so many top players who will be helping us celebrate 20 years of WTA tennis.”