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Clijsters prepares for emotional grand slam farewell at U.S. Open

updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed August 22, 2012
Kim Clijsters reached the quarterfinals of her first Olympic tournament at the recent London Games.
Kim Clijsters reached the quarterfinals of her first Olympic tournament at the recent London Games.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The U.S. Open will be the final grand slam of Kim Clijsters' career
  • The Belgian has won at Flushing Meadows three times in the last six years
  • Clijsters took the tournament as a wildcard in 2009 after coming out of retirement
  • The 31-year-old also claimed the title in 2005 and 2010, but has struggled with injuries recently

(CNN) -- It was the scene of her first grand slam triumph in 2005 and where she roared out of retirement to complete a hat-trick of titles in 2009 and 2010.

But this year, the U.S. Open will serve as the swansong to Kim Clijsters' rollercoaster career, and the popular Belgian is aiming to bow out with a fourth Flushing Meadows crown.

"(I am) too old to play the game that I want to play physically," the 29-year-old, who initially retired from the sport to give birth to her first child in 2007, told the New York tournament's official website.

"I've put my body through enough strain and everything. The whole lifestyle, that's what I'm dealing with now, the lifestyle I've had for the last 15, 20 years."

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The former world No. 1 turned pro in 1997 and has won 41 WTA Tour titles in addition to her three U.S. Open triumphs and her 2011 success at the Australian Open.

"I think for me the most important thing is I've always followed my heart," she continued. "I've always done what I felt was right. I've always stayed true to who I am.

"Players change. There's so many other things involved than just tennis and practicing. I think you see players kind of losing the true sense of life, and of the sport."

Clijsters took the sport by storm on her return in 2009, winning the U.S. Open as a wildcard to become the first mother to take a grand slam title since Australia's Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.

She successfully defended her title 12 months on, before adding the Australian Open to her collection just five months later, beating China's Li Na in the final.

"I didn't expect obviously when I started back after having Jada, I never expected that things would be going so well so soon," she added. "It's been an incredible adventure these last three, four years.

"I feel like I've been able to kind of finish that chapter of my tennis year on a good note."

Clijsters returned to the top of the world rankings in February last year, but her body began to let her down.

She missed Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2011 with ankle, wrist and shoulder injuries, but was fit enough to play in her first Olympic tournament at London 2012.

Silver medalist Maria Sharapova defeated Clijsters in the quarterfinals, but she is now looking forward to bringing her career to a close at an event which has provided so many happy memories.

"I have no regrets. I know I always gave myself 100 percent," she said. "The US Open will be a special occasion for me to be playing there and to end my career there. I'm sure it will be emotional."

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