Returning to the scene of her unexpected U.S. Open victory last year, Belgian Kim Clijsters was delighted to find the memories of all the small things that went her way at the National Tennis Center came flooding back. "I'm reliving the little details," the effervescent Clijsters said moments ago. "It makes it nice. It's fresh."
For those who might have forgotten, last year's U.S. Open was the first Grand Slam tournament and only the third overall tournament she played after ending her two-year retirement. She was the first wild-card entrant to win the title and, more to the point, the first mother to win in 29 years since Evonne Goolagong in 1980. Clisters celebrated on the court with then two-year-old daughter Jada and her husband, Bryan Lynch, a former basketball player at Villanova, who just recently ended his professional career with the Antwerp Giants in Belgium.
Clijsters threw out the first pitch before Friday night's Mets game against the Astros at Citi Field. Asked if she understood the rules of baseball, Clijsters said she did thanks to all the U.S. sports she watches on TV with her husband. "My husband likes to follow everybody, so, I'm watching NFL and obviously the NBA a little more."
Tiger Woods comeback following his divorce has been a major topic during today's news conferences, and it turns out even Clijsters is a bit of a golf fan. However, her favorite player is South African Ernie Els. "I've watched a lot of golf," Clijsters said. "I've been an Ernie Else fan for a long time. Tiger Woods is still capable, but his personal situation obviously is having an effect. He'll be back."
Pressed as to whether she's rooting for him, Clijsters demurred, saying, "I root for Ernie Els."
Clijsters also took issue with John McEnroe's recent criticism of the demands of the WTA tour. She said it's actually easier than in the past, and it's a matter of personal discipline knowing how many tournaments your body can take and choosing accordingly.
She also is the only player so far in the interview room today who has seen the new TV commercial in which Roger Federer serves two balls at a man balancing a cup on his head and hits nothing but cup both times. When someone asked whether she thought it was real, Clijsters laughed and said, "Let me just say I would not hold that thing on my head even if it was Roger Federer. But the guy in the commercial was very calm like he knew what was going to happen."
Could she knock a cup off someone's head with her serve without hitting the person under it? "No," Clijsters said with a smile.
Clijsters went on to praise Caroline Wozniacki as a deserving No. 1 seed, but she added, "Obviously, a lot of other players feel they have a big chance to win."