Clijsters Wins U.S. Open in Return From Retirement

Clijsters Wins U.S. Open in Return From Retirement NEW YORK — Kim Clijsters cradled the baby in one hand, the trophy in the other.

The joy of motherhood. The joy of winning the U.S. Open.

Clijsters made history Sunday night,
capping a comeback from two years out of tennis to become the first
unseeded woman to win the Open — and the first mom to win a major since
1980 — with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki.

When it was over, Clijsters collapsed
to the ground and started crying — tears of joy, probably mixed in with
a little bit of shock, too. Her 18-month-old daughter, Jada, watched
from a suite with a pacifier in her mouth, but later came down to the
court to take part in the celebration.

Guess what mommy got for you, sweetie! A Grand Slam title.

"It was not really our plan,"
Clijsters said. "I just wanted to start these three tournaments and get
back into the rhythm of playing tennis and get used to the surroundings
again."

Talk about your quick transitions.

It was all quite a different scene
from the night before, when Clijsters' semifinal win over Serena
Williams
was decided on a point penalty, and the 26-year-old Belgian
stood behind the baseline, looking bewildered as Williams ran over to
shake her hand.

Williams' tirade may have been the
talk of the U.S. Open. But Clijsters was the winner. This was her
second U.S. Open title, the last coming in 2005 — her last appearance
at Flushing Meadows and before a spate of nagging injuries eventually
drove her out of the sport and led her to start a family.

Some might have called this the
mother of all upsets, but by the time she reached the final, against
the resilient but still-learning 19-year-old from Denmark, it was hard
to view it that way.

Clijsters beat both Williams sisters
and two other players seeded in the teens. She matched Venus and Serena
power shot for power shot and showed she could play Wozniacki's patient
game — and play it better.

This match was nothing like the
Williams match — before it turned sour — which was filled with short,
hard-hitting rallies in which Clijsters moved one of tennis' best
players at will and made her hit shots from places she normally
doesn't.

Instead, it was a waiting game, and when Clijsters fell behind 4-2 in the first set, she showed she was willing to play it.

A 29-shot rally here, a 25-shot
rally there. Drop shots and lobs. Clijsters did that. Went for more,
too, and finished with two more winners than unforced errors (36-34) —
a good ratio on any day — and 26 more winners than Wozniacki.

After getting back on serve,
Clijsters held off two break points at 5-5, then broke Wozniacki for
the fourth time to win the first set. The second set was easier and
before they knew it, Jada was on the court posing for photographers.

Clijsters didn't even have a ranking
coming into this tournament because she hadn't played enough matches to
get on the list. She'll come in at around No. 20 when the new rankings
come out this week, but probably won't try to improve on that right
away.

"It's the greatest feeling in the
world being a mother," she said. "I just can't wait to spend next the
few weeks with her and have her routine schedule at home again."

Her victory came over the first
Danish player to reach a Grand Slam final, though Wozniacki's greater
claim to fame is that she's won more matches on tour this year than
anyone.

She played like a winner over two
weeks in Flushing Meadows, including that 6-2, 6-2 victory that ended
the magical run of 17-year-old Melanie Oudin, whose rapid rise was the
story of the tournament for the first 10 days.

Oudin left, then the Williams imbroglio took over.

Clijsters made her headlines, too. The mother-on-a-comeback story was a winner all the way.

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