The first women’s withdrawal from Roland Garros was announced today, and in many respects, it was not unexpected. Kim Clijsters will not be competing this clay season including at the 2012 French Open due to a lingering hip injury. Clijsters, who will be retiring again at the end of the year, instead has her sights set on the grass season, including Wimbledon and the Olympics.
Clijsters, who reached two finals at Roland Garros – in 2001 (l. to Capriati) and 2003 (l. to Henin) has won three career titles on clay. However, since her comeback in 2009, Clijsters has only played two tournaments on the red European clay. At the 2010 Andalucia Tennis Experience in Marbella, Spain, Clijsters defeated Alexandra Dulgheru in the opening round before being stunned by qualifier Beatriz Garcia Vidgany. At the 2011 French Open, she defeated Anastasiya Yakimova in the opening round before falling against Arantxa Rus after having match points. It was the first time she had competed in Paris since 2006.
While it is unfortunate Clijsters’ body will not allow her to dictate the terms of her final year on tour, one must really consider how motivated she is to play out the year. After injuring her ankle against Li Na in the fourth round on the Australian Open, she withdrew from Indian Wells. She then proclaimed herself healthy to compete in Miami. There, she suffered the current injury and crashed out to countrywoman Yanina Wickmayer in the third round. Clijsters has openly expressed her desire to spend time with her family and to have more children, and many are convinced she would have called it quits in 2011 were it not for the London Olympics looming this July. Clijsters, who has never represented her country in the Olympics, has repeatedly cited competing there as a goal this year.
Clijsters’ next scheduled tournament is the Unicef Open in Rosmalen, the Netherlands.