January 2, 2020 / 10:19 AM / in 5 months

Kids first, tournaments second, says comeback queen Clijsters

FILE PHOTO: Kim Clijsters of Belgium and her family pose for a photograph after she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, U.S., July 22, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

(Reuters) - Four-times Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters, due to make her professional comeback after a seven-year hiatus, said she will be selective in picking the tournaments she plays to give her time to focus on her children.

A mother of three, the 36-year-old Belgian announced plans in September to come out of retirement for a second time. But her return, initially scheduled for January, has been pushed back due to a knee injury.

Clijsters, who previously rejoined the circuit between 2009 and 2012, said her priority this time was ensuring she was around when her children, aged between three and 11, needed her.

"It's going to be different than before, I'm not going to play a lot of tournaments," Clijsters said in an interview with The Telegraph here. "The kids aren't going to travel with me as much.

“I’m going to have to pick my tournaments wisely to see what works with the kids and with school, exams... My kids and their schedules will not be affected by my decision to come back.”

While a return at this month’s Australian Open - the last Grand Slam she won in 2011 - has been ruled out, Clijsters has been given wildcards for later tournaments, including the Indian Wells Masters in March.

She said the amount she played would also depend on her fitness and recovery time.

“I know this isn’t a five-year career. It’s just going to be something for two, three, four years if I can stay healthy and learn more about how my body will react,” she said.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by John Stonestreet

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