Injured Clijsters targets Rogers Cup at Toronto

Kim Clijsters of Belgium, currently ranked No. 2 in the world behind Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, intends to return from a foot injury in time to compete in the Rogers Cup at Toronto's Rexall Centre.
Kim Clijsters of Belgium signs autographs upon winning the Rogers Cup at Toronto's Rexall Centre on Aug. 21, 2005. ((Robert Laberge/Getty Images))

Kim Clijsters of Belgium, ranked second in the world behind Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, plans to return from injury in time for the Rogers Cup at Toronto's Rexall Centre. CBC Sports will broadcast the semifinals and championship final on Aug. 13 and 14, respectively. Clijsters has been hampered by injuries since winning the Australian Open in January. The 28-year-old mom sprained her right ankle dancing at her cousin's wedding in April and promptly lost in the second round of the French Open — Clijsters' earliest exit from a major since she was eliminated in the second round at Wimbledon in 2002. Clijsters then reinjured the foot last month at the Unicef Open in the Netherlands and was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon.

Clijsters spoke about that and on a wide range of topics in a recent conference call to promote the Rogers Cup in Toronto:

On the Rogers Cup in Toronto

It's great to hear that the Top 25 has entered. It only shows how we all look at the tournament. It's a big tournament leading up to the U.S. Open, obviously. To me, when I'm preparing for the U.S. Open, what I think about first is I want to be ready to play well in Toronto. I enjoy it here. But at the same time, you really want to well there because it's such a prestigious tournament and it's built up such a reputation … I definitely schedule it in my program to try and peak there. That's definitely the first, kind of, big test that you want to do well.

On Rebecca Marino

I, obviously, know the name. But I probably haven't been able to watch enough of her to give you very honest and clear feeback. It's definitely a name I'm going to be watching over the next few weeks. Obviously, in Toronto as well. There's a lot of youngsters coming up these days and, now that I'm older, I really enjoy keeping an eye on them and folloiwng them a little bit — seeing personality wise, how they are when they're practising, how they interact with the fans, the media. It's nice to see how I was 10-15 years ago. It makes me realize that I'm getting older but that you learn so much. It sounds like a long time, 10 years. But it goes by really fast and to see how personalities grow throughout this whole process is one of the fun things to watch.

On juggling motherhood with tennis

It's not always easy. It's hard to juggle. But I feel I have a really good team around me who suport me. Our daughter is getting older, so it becomes easier. She understands what it's like to travel. We're getting closer to my last season and, as it gets closer, you tend to take in a little bit more and you enjoy it a lot better. Life is a big learning process and every decision that you make, good or bad, I always believe that something useful comes out of it. I need to have my personal life — my private life — and my tennis where it needs to be very balanced. If I'm away too long from my family, then I know I can't focus enough on my tennis [and] then I'll feel guilty. But the other way around as well, if I'm constantly home and cooking and cleaning, I know I'm not going to be able to put the time into my tennis that I need. That's been a balancing act over these last few years.

On the Strong is Beautiful campaign

Kim Clijsters' Strong Is Beautiful campaign poster. ((WTA Tour))

We got approached to do this photo shoot. It sounded very interesting to just to do it like that. We always have the action photos from court — we don't wear makeup on court and everything — so, in this way, it was was nice to have an action photo but more intense with the background. It wasn't like the typical tennis court and that's why a lot of players were very interested. If you want to be an athlete, you need to be strong and healthy and fit, so it was nice to show what women athletes — and women in general wanting to have a healthy lifestyle — look like. I still having people come up to me about that picture … it is a tough subject to talk about. I remember Anna Kournikova and everybody talking about how she had the perfect body and everything and, with the way women's tennis has evolved and how it's become so much more powerful and more physical, I also think the bodies have become different. They've become stronger because you have to keep up and I think that's the beauty of this sport — that you grow as a person, but also, physically, you also try to improve. You try to get better in every way.

Kim Clijsters, with her right ankle bandaged, in a June 14 loss. ((Peter Dejong/Associated Press))

On her latest foot injury

I went for a drop shot and I twisted my foot — not sideways — but, kind of, more forward. I slipped and my ankle went forward and I stretched the front of my foot and I had a lot of bone bruisng from the back of my heel and my leg that hit each other. It's the bone bruising and the tendons that are caught in between there that were damaged. For bone bruising? There's probably not that much that you can do. You can try to get a lot of circulation in there to make the healing process go faster. For the tendon? Probably the usual treatment. There was a lot of exercises, a lot of treament and a lot of ice after every practice — no high heels (chuckles) — so overall, it's boring. But it's a nice feeling knowing that the time you put in trying to get it better is actually doing it good and that you actually feel better … it's all a matter of balancing how much I can take and slowly build it up to the point where I can play freely without any doubt in my head and without focusing on my foot.

On earlier (dancing) injury 

Same foot. Totally different injury. There was no bruising. That was more like a normal ankle sprain. This one was, kind of, in the back of the Achilles tendon.

On a strong showing in Toronto

In my situation now, in every tournament I decide to go, I want to have a good tournament. I'm not in the luxury sutuation where I feel like I've had enough preparation to not worry if you don't have a great tournament here or there. It is very important for me to be very well prepared before I get to Toronto so that I can do play some good tennis against the best players out there. It's going to be a very important kind of step and test for me when I get out there.

On the recent level of competition

I watched Wimbledon and, to see [Petra] Kvitova win, it's not that it was a surprise to me because she is a great player, but to see her play in such a big final on such a big stage, to me, was a surprise. I was very impressed by how she handled it all. Maria [Sharapova] is definitely plaing really well as well. It'll be very interesting to see how Venus and Serena [Williams] react after Wimbledon. How they're going to be improving in thse next few months, that's going to be interesting as well. We're getting back into a very interesting time in tennis, kind of where you get the older generation that was dominating tennis for so long — Venus, Serena, Maria and myself. It's nice to have both those generations playing for a lot of the big titles right now.

On the Rogers Cup as U.S. Open tuneup

When I go to Toronto, I'm going because I want to do well in Toronto. It's not that I'm already thinking about my preparations for the U.S. Open. My preparation for the U.S. Open, it is a part of it. But when I really start focusing for the U.S. Open is probably the week before. I think it's one tournament at a time and then we'll see how we're at, how i feel, how my tennis is going and then put more time into things where I feel I need to improve and we'll take it from there.