It could have been a scene straight out of central casting.
When injuries and motherhood caused highly acclaimed Belgian tennis sensation Kim Clijsters to retire from the sport in 2007, many of the pundits assumed she was just another star to have fizzled and faded away all too soon. Sadly, such is the usual trajectory of professional athletes. Of those who actually enjoy their moment in the sun, the time is almost always brief. High profile comebacks often produce headlines, but rarely do they result in historic championships.
But then there is the feisty aforementioned 26-year-old Kim Clijsters, who defied the odds in exciting fashion. After 18 months away from the sport, the previously top-ranked player announced her plans to return to the game this past March. Analysts expected her to compete, but most assumed the rust would take some time to wear off, if ever.
Having received a wild card entry to the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York, Clijsters shocked everyone, including herself. She reclaimed the title she had first won in 2005, completing the storybook comeback before a throng of adoring fans.
Among those hollering the loudest were Kim’s husband, Brian Lynch, and their 18-month-old daughter, Jada. The cute-as-a-button blond-haired toddler, her long locks blowing in the evening breeze, waddled onto the court, appearing nearly mesmerized by the popping flashbulbs and shiny silver trophy.
As the crowds cheered and the media descended to capture it all, Clijsters summed up her thoughts: “”It’s the greatest feeling in the world being a mother.”
It was a Madison Avenue moment—for motherhood. Here first thoughts following the victory weren’t of personal glory, but rather, her little girl Jada and husband Brian. How refreshing!
Sunday’s compelling positive drama stood in stark contrast to the despicable Saturday night profanity-laden outburst from Serena Williams, who berated a line judge over a ruling that went against her favor. Williams, who actually wore a Nike t-shirt during the tournament that said, “Can’t Spell Dynasty Without Nasty!,” later apologized but not before being fined $10,500.
On court outbursts are nothing new, of course. John McEnroe’s tirades became so well known that he even wrote a book whose title quoted his favorite sarcastic quip, “You Can Not be Serious!”
Thankfully for all the young girls and women out there watching, Kim Clijsters is serious about motherhood and appears to be enjoying the critical task of shaping and nurturing the next generation.