No one gave much thought to Clijsters' chance of advancing deep into the tournament—she was considered little more than a personal interest story in a field crowded with them. First of all, she began the tournament unseeded—there had not been an unseeded U.S. Open women's champion since Venus Williams did it in 1997.
Second is the way she entered the tournament—no wild card entry had even ever reached the U.S. Open final before…much less won it all.
Third, Clijsters is a mother—no mom had won a major tennis title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won Wimbledon in 1980. While her fellow players spent their off days on the practice courts preparing for their next opponent or working through some mechanical flaw spotted by their coach, Clijsters reportedly spent hers very differently. She, Brian and Jada spent the days relaxing together, a world away from the crowds.
And yet there was Clijsters, on a Sunday night in September, handily beating her younger opponent—19-year-old Carolina Wozniacki—for a straight-sets championship and earning a new world ranking of 19. (This came after another rare accomplishment: beating both Venus and Serena Williams in the same tournament. Only six women have done it before, and Clijsters is the only woman to do it twice.) There was Clijsters, like a time capsule, defending her championship four years late. And there was 19-month-old Jada, admiring the latest shiny addition to mom's trophy case.
Are you inspired by Clijsters' comeback? Are there any other professional moms you admire? Leave your opinion below in our comments section.