- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former No. 1-ranked tennis player Kim Clijsters has asked the U.S. Open about receiving a wild card for this year’s tournament as part of her comeback plans, The Associated Press has learned.

The 25-year-old Belgian says she will announce her 2009 plans at a news conference Thursday.

A person who works at the U.S. Tennis Association tells the AP there have been conversations between a tournament official and representatives of Clijsters, who retired in 2007.

The person said the USTA told Clijsters she would receive a U.S. Open wild card if she formally requests one.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Clijsters has yet to announce her comeback.

Clijsters is the 2005 U.S. Open champion.


AP Sports Writer Raf Casert in Strasbourg, France, contributed to this report.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BRUSSELS (AP) _ Former top-ranked Kim Clijsters will hold a news conference Thursday amid reports she is planning a return to the WTA Tour.

The 25-year-old Belgian, who retired two years ago, will “unveil her plans for 2009” at the tennis center where she has been recently training.

“At this time, Kim has not contacted the Tour regarding entry into Tour events,” WTA spokesman Andrew Walker wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

The Het Belang van Limburg regional newspaper said she was set to enter top-level tournaments. The VTM television network said she may target the U.S. Open, where she won her only Grand Slam title in 2005, as the highlight of her season.

A spokeswoman for Clijsters did not return phone calls.

Though she no longer has a WTA ranking, Clijsters could receive wild cards for any tournament she wants to enter.

Clijsters retired from the WTA Tour in May 2007. She married pro basketball player Brian Lynch and gave birth to a daughter, Jada, in February 2008.

Fellow Belgian star Justine Henin retired last year while still ranked No. 1.

In her last competitive match two years ago, Clijsters lost in the Antwerp Diamond Games final to France’s Amelie Mauresmo before a capacity crowd of 14,500 at the Sport Palace.

Clijsters recently announced she would play Steffi Graf on May 17 as part of a series of exhibition matches at Wimbledon to test conditions under the new retractable roof on Centre Court.

She is also scheduled to play an exhibition June 14 at the Ordina Open in Rosmalen against Michaella Krajicek, plus two matches for the St. Louis Aces in the World Team Tennis league in July.

Clijsters reached four Grand Slam finals and won 34 singles titles overall. She won two Grand Slam doubles titles and held the No. 1 ranking for 19 weeks.

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