Former world number one Kim Clijsters has announced she will make a second career comeback to tennis at the age of 36.
Clijsters, who won four grand slam titles before her most recent retirement in 2012, took to Instagram to reveal her intentions to join the WTA Tour when it reaches Australia in January.
Owing to the status gained from her past accomplishments, the mother-of-three will benefit from unlimited wildcards as she rejoins the professional ranks.
“I’m so excited to announce that I will be making my second comeback to the WTA Tour,” the Belgian said on her official website.
“While there is a lot of work ahead of me in the next four months, my biggest motivation is the personal challenge involved – both physically and mentally, I want to test myself again.
“At 36 years old I feel like I’m too young to be retired and, with so many inspirational athletes and moms competing, I can’t wait to get back on the match court and see what’s possible after having three children.”
Clijsters, who turned professional in 1997, has stepped away from the sport twice, initially retiring in 2007 due to persistent injury troubles.
Following a two-year hiatus and the birth of her daughter, Clijsters returned to action in 2009, relying on wildcards to regain her ranking.
The Belgian swiftly reclaimed the US Open title she had first won in 2005 by defeating Caroline Wozniacki in 2009.
Clijsters then successfully defended the title in 2010, before adding an Australian Open victory to her CV the following year.
A second retirement was announced in 2012, this time owing to family commitments as Clijsters did not wish to continue to tour while her daughter started school.
After a seven-year hiatus and the birth of her two sons, Clijsters began training in early 2019 and re-established her connections with Carl Maes and Sam Verslegers – her former coach and osteopath respectively.
Her return is welcomed by WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon, who told her website: “Kim Clijsters ranks among the greats of the game and her return to the Tour is exciting news for the WTA family and tennis fans around the world.
“Driven by her love for the sport, this wonderful champion continues to inspire women and men in all walks of life – and she only adds to the compelling wealth of talent in women’s tennis.”
Clijsters’ return will be documented by Belgian television production company De Mensen, who have already filmed six months of footage.