Kim Clijsters has announced plans for a remarkable return to the WTA Tour after a seven-year absence.

The former world number one - a four-time major champion - has not played since the 2012 US Open, having called time on her career for a second time with 41 singles titles.

But Clijsters, 36, is now aiming to return in 2020, potentially competing again with Serena and Venus Williams - the only active players who can match her tally of Tour honours.

Inspired by the Belgian's decision, we look at some other notable comebacks in women's tennis.

 

Martina Navratilova

While Navratilova never again hit the heights that saw her claim 18 singles majors before her initial retirement, her 2000 return - 27 years on from her Tour debut - was undoubtedly a success.

Navratilova would not play singles at a grand slam until 2004 - winning in the first round at Wimbledon aged 47 - but spent the second part of her career mopping up numerous doubles prizes, finally bowing out in 2006 having won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at all four majors for a total of 59 championships. Not bad.

Margaret Court

The only player with more grand slam titles across all disciplines than Navratilova is Court, although that would not have been the case had she stayed retired after Wimbledon in 1966, then playing as Margaret Smith.

She married Barry Court the following year, took his name on her return to tennis in 1968 and then set about achieving complete domination again in the new Open Era. She added 11 more majors, winning the Grand Slam in 1970, and finished on a still unmatched 24, retiring in 1977 due to the pregnancy with her fourth child.

 

Jennifer Capriati

Capriati's lay-off from tennis was only brief following the 1993 US Open as she struggled with the pressure of the sport, yet she had a long, long route back to the top, having been a child star and won the Olympics in 1992.

Her hard work paid off eventually, though, and the American won the Australian Open and French Open titles in 2001 and became world number one, defending her Melbourne title the following year. Having finally got close to fulfilling her immense potential, Capriati's final retirement came following an injury-plagued 2004 season.

Kim Clijsters

Clijsters need look no further than the mirror for inspiration when she steps back out onto the court next year, having already completed one hugely successful return.

She retired aged just 23 in 2007, citing a desire for "health and private happiness", but was back two years later. Clijsters made her grand slam singles comeback at the US Open and won her second title, before defending her crown for a third the following year. She backed that up at the 2011 Australian Open before apparently calling it quits for good the next year.

But now she is back again...

Simona Halep has announced Darren Cahill will return to coach the Wimbledon champion for the 2020 season.

Cahill split with Halep last November to take a one-year coaching hiatus, enabling him to spend more time with his family in Australia.

Two-time major winner Halep on Thursday revealed that long-time coach Cahill will be back in her corner next year.

The Romanian posted on social media: "I have some exciting news to share with you. After a year without him on my team, I'm happy to announce that Darren will be back by my side next season."

Halep added: "So, D, last time I killed you, and I'm playing to kill you again. I can't wait to finish what we started. See you soon!"

Former world number one Halep had a short spell working with Thierry van Cleemput after Cahill opted to take a break.

Halep won her first major title at the French Open last year and doubled her tally at the All England Club in July.

 

 

There was no play at the Zhengzhou Open on Thursday as the rain that derailed Wednesday's late fixtures continued.

Some 16 matches, including the conclusion of top seed Karolina Pliskova's tie with Polona Hercog, were scheduled but they have all been pushed back to Friday.

Pliskova will restart play with a one-set lead over Hercog, who fought back to lead 5-2 in the second before the weather intervened.

Third seed Kiki Bertens was due to face Ajla Tomlkanovic, while world number three Elina Svitolina - who celebrated her 25th birthday on Thursday - also had her game moved back.

 

Kim Clijsters is planning a comeback following a seven-year absence from the WTA Tour, the former world number one has announced.

Clijsters, 36, retired after the 2012 US Open, where she was beaten in the second round by British player Laura Robson.

But the four-time grand slam winner has now announced a surprising return and is training with a view to playing again in 2020.

The Belgian told the WTA Insider Podcast: "I don't really feel like I want to prove something. I think for me it's the challenge.

"I have friends who would say, 'I want to run the New York Marathon before I turn 50'. For me, I still love to play tennis.

"The love for the sport is obviously still there. But the question still is, am I capable of bringing it to a level where I would like it to be at and where I want it to be at before I want to play at a high level of one of the best women's sports in the world?

"I don't feel like I need to prove anything, but I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon. This is where I'm saying, 'OK, let's try this'."

Clijsters - now a mother of three - made her WTA debut at the age of 15 in 1999, and was 29 when she retired.

She spent 19 weeks at world number one, and claimed her first grand slam title at Flushing Meadows in 2005.

After giving birth to daughter Jada, Clijsters returned to win the US Open again in 2009 and 2010, before adding the 2011 Australian Open.

With 41 singles titles, Clijsters is beaten only in the trophy count by Serena Williams and Venus Williams among players active on tour, while her haul is the 14th highest in the Open era.

Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wild cards at WTA tournaments because of her former world number one status, but she will have to play three tournaments or earn 10 points to re-establish a ranking.

Peng Shuai recorded her best win of 2019 as she defeated Kristyna Pliskova in three sets at the Jiangxi Open on Friday.

The former world number 14, who had not beaten a player ranked in the top 100 this year, saw off 81st-ranked Pliskova 6-3 0-6 6-4 after a gruelling one hour and 49 minutes in humid conditions.

Pliskova recovered from losing the first set to produce a dominant display in the second, reeling off 20 winners in six quick-fire games to seize the initiative in the contest.

However, Peng broke to move 5-4 ahead in the third and booked her place in the last eight with a forehand winner.

Peng will face compatriot Zhu Lin in the quarter-finals, the latter likely to be feeling the fresher of the two after top seed Zhang Shuai retired ill from their last-16 match at 6-0 1-0 down after only 39 minutes.

Fourth seed Elena Rybakina progressed with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 defeat of Xinyu Wang, while Nina Stojanovic beat former US Open champion Sam Stosur 6-4 6-3.

At the Hana-cupid Open, Alison van Uytvanck won a battle of the Belgians against Kirsten Flipkens to reach the quarter-finals.

Van Uytvanck led by a set and a break but eventually needed one hour and 55 minutes to take a 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory and secure a meeting with Mihaela Buzarnescu, who beat Kurumi Nara in straight sets.

Seventh seed Sara Sorribes Tormo made light work of Varvara Flink, winning 6-3 6-1, while Misaki Doi gave the home fans something to cheer with a 6-1 1-6 6-3 defeat of Australia's Zoe Hives.

Andy Murray has taken a wildcard for the Shanghai Masters as the former world number one continues his comeback from hip surgery.

After working his way back to fitness by playing doubles, Murray made a short-lived return to ATP singles action in August, losing to Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati before Tennys Sandgren defeated him at the Winston-Salem Open.

Murray skipped the US Open, dropping to Challenger level and taking part in the Rafa Nadal Open in Mallorca, recording two victories before going out in round three.

Having already confirmed he would take part in the Zhuhai Championships and the China Open in September, Murray will now play in the Far East for three weeks, with the Shanghai Masters beginning on October 6.

Murray - a three-time grand slam champion - initially looked set to retire after the Australian Open in January, though surgery has resolved a long-standing hip issue.

The 32-year-old is currently at 415 in the ATP world rankings.

Top seed Karolina Pliskova was rescued by the rain at the Zhengzhou Open as Polona Hercog's fightback was brought to a halt.

Pliskova started brightly to take the first set 6-3 but the world number two was serving to stay in the second at 5-2 down when the weather intervened, as it had several times during the day.

The duo will resume on Thursday at the WTA Premier event to settle who will make it through to the last eight.

Sofia Kenin awaits the winner after the sixth seed defeated Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2.

Petra Martic, seeded seventh, also progressed but had to battle back from a set down to overcome Fiona Ferro 3-6 6-1 6-2.

There was one seed who suffered a loss, though, with Caroline Garcia beaten 7-5 6-2 at the hands of Kristina Mladenovic.

On September 11 1999, a rising star of tennis clinched her first grand slam title and, 20 years later, Serena Williams is still going strong.

Williams, aged 17, beat Martina Hingis 6-3 7-6 (7-4) in the US Open final at Flushing Meadows to make a major breakthrough.

Two decades and 23 grand slam titles have passed since then, yet Williams - one triumph shy of equalling Margaret Court's overall major record hall - is still at the pinnacle of the sport.

The American reached her second slam final of 2019 at Flushing Meadows last week, though it ended in defeat to new kid on the block Bianca Andreescu, who also beat Williams in the Rogers Cup final in August – albeit with her opponent retiring at 3-1 down.

It means Williams has lost her last four appearances in grand slam finals since winning the Australian Open in January 2017, but her ever enduring talent means a record-equalling success should never be discounted.

Here are some of the astonishing numbers of Williams' career to date.

72 - Williams has won 72 WTA singles titles so far. Her first was in Paris in 1999, with her most recent coming in Melbourne in 2017.

33 - The 37-year-old has reached an incredible 33 grand slam singles finals, losing just 10 of those.

5 - Williams has finished the year ranked as world number one five times, in 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

39 - Including 14 in doubles and two in mixed doubles, Williams has won 39 major titles - that is a joint-third total since the Open Era began.

1 - Williams is the only player, male or female, to have completed a Golden Slam in both singles and doubles competitions. As well as triumphing at every slam and the Olympics as a singles competitor, Serena has achieved the same feat alongside sister Venus in doubles.

7 - Williams has seven titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, with six more at the US Open, and three at Roland Garros.

319 - Having spent 319 weeks as world number one, Williams is third behind Martina Navratilova (332) and Steffi Graf (377).

2 - She has held all four grand slam trophies on two occasions - in 2002-03 and 2014-15.

97 - In total, Williams has appeared in 97 singles finals on the WTA circuit.

186 - Williams spent 186 weeks as world number one between February 2013 and September 2016, equal with Graf's record from August 1987 to March 1991.

Bronx Open champion Magda Linette eased into the quarter-finals of the Jiangxi Open in confident fashion with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Liu Fangzhou.

It took world number 45 Linette just 58 minutes to complete her straight-sets victory over the wildcard, as the Pole moved to within one win of matching her run to the semi-finals in 2018.

Linette hit 20 winners in total, without conceding a break point to her opponent - a quarter-finalist in Nanchang in 2016 and 2018.

The third seed will take on Rebecca Peterson in the last eight, after the Swede's victory over Jana Fett, while Viktorija Golubic and Kateryna Kozlova also progressed.

In Hiroshima, defending Hana-cupid Japan Open champion Hsieh Su-wei overcame a poor first-set performance to claim a 1-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 win over Priscilla Hon.

Hon served for the match twice in the second set and missed an additional chance to secure victory in the third, and Hsieh made her pay in a contest that lasted over two hours.

World number 29 Hsieh will now face Nao Hibino – whose opponent Zarina Diyas retired hurt – in the quarters, where they are joined by second seed Veronika Kudermetova and Laura Siegemund after they beat Christina McHale and Patricia Maria Tig respectively.

Martina Navratilova believes Serena Williams will have to find her brilliant best to win another grand slam after yet more disappointment in a major final at the US Open.

The painful 6-3 7-5 defeat to Canadian Bianca Andreescu in Saturday's title match at Flushing Meadows means Williams, unquestionably the player of her generation, remains one slam title behind Margaret Court at the top of the all-time list.

Williams has lost major four finals in the last 14 months and her last grand slam singles triumph came at the 2017 Australian Open.

It will be to Melbourne she returns for the next drive to land that 24th slam, and the American, though still a major force, will have turned 38 by the time she arrives in Australia in January.

Navratilova was 37 when she played her last grand slam singles final, losing to Conchita Martinez at Wimbledon in 1994, and she retired later that year, returning for a brief singles dalliance in 2000 and a more sustained involvement in doubles well into her forties.

She said the pressure that Williams faced in New York was of the kind that "only happens to legends and is impossible to quantify".

"I still think Serena can get to 24 majors," Navratilova told the WTA website.

"Especially as the court surface at the Australian Open suits her better as it's faster than the US Open.

"But, after losing four in a row, every major final is now going to be harder for Serena. For one thing, there are going to be more players who think they can beat her.

"And also the scar tissue and the pressure will only grow. Just 'Average Serena' is not going to cut it in Melbourne in January; she will have to bring her best."

Navratilova was hugely impressed by 19-year-old Andreescu who had the courage to hit Williams off court, only showing the slightest sign of nerves when her opponent launched a second-set fightback from the brink of defeat.

The bravado of the first-time champion struck a chord with Navratilova, who said: "It was as if Andreescu knew that there was nothing she could do about the crowd being so vocal in their support for Serena.

"She didn’t take it personally, though it must have been hard, really hard."

And with Andreescu among a host of young players who look set to give the women's game a bright future, Navratilova sees the landscape changing - albeit with one fact still incontrovertible.

"If Serena plays her best tennis, she's still better than everybody else out there," said the nine-time Wimbledon singles champion. "Unfortunately for Serena, she didn't do that in New York."

Wang Yafan exited the Jiangxi Open at the first hurdle as Nina Stojanovic caused the first upset of the tournament.

Second seed Wang was overpowered in 80 minutes on Tuesday, succumbing 6-2 6-4 to Stojanovic, who has reached the quarter-finals in each of her two main draw appearances in 2019.

Stojanovic lost out to Taylor Townsend – who would go on to beat Wimbledon champion Simona Halep en route to the fourth round – in US Open qualification but had too much power for her opponent this time around.

Samantha Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion, awaits Stojanovic in round two after the Australian overcame compatriot Arina Rodionova 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

While Wang heads home early, there was no such trouble for top seed Zhang Shuai, as the world number 32 breezed past Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets to set up a contest with Zhu Lin in round two. 

Seeds Elena Rybakina and Kristyna Pliskova both progressed and will meet Wang Xinyu and Peng Shuai respectively, with qualifier Jana Fett completing the round-two line-up.

In Hiroshima, first-round action at the Japan Women's Open saw top seed and defending champion Hsieh Su-wei fend off Risa Ozaki, securing a hard-earned 6-1 3-6 6-3 victory.

"I was thinking there would be a lot of pressure as the defending champion," Hsieh said. "I was really relaxed and tried to enjoy the match, but the first match is never easy, I was trying to find my rhythm."

Though fourth seed Anastasia Potapova fell 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 to Zoe Hives, home hopes Kurumi Nara and Misaki Doi made winning starts.

Nara's win was particularly impressive, the world number 182 sinking the fifth seed Tatjana Maria 6-4 6-4.

Alison Riske inflicted another first-round defeat on Angelique Kerber as the former world number one crashed out of the Zhengzhou Open in China.

American Riske, who was a surprise quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in July, came from behind to beat Germany's three-time grand slam winner 5-7 6-4 7-6 (8-6) on Tuesday.

It means Kerber has lost her opening match at four successive tournaments, last enjoying a victory in the first round of Wimbledon.

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who beat Riske in the second round of the US Open two weeks ago before falling in round three, recovered from a mid-match slump to beat China's You Xiaodi in the first round in Zhengzhou.

Latvian Ostapenko, who has nosedived from 22nd to as low as 83rd in the WTA singles rankings this year – she is currently at 75 - was a 6-3 0-6 6-2 winner against qualifier You.

France's Kristina Mladenovic beat Kerber in the first round of the US Open, before falling in round two. Mladenovic began her campaign in Zhengzhou with a comfortable 6-2 6-3 win against Duan Ying-Ying.

Fiona Ferro, who beat Mladenovic in New York, started out at the Chinese event with a 6-2 6-3 success against Yang Zhaoxuan, while Alize Cornet and Ajla Tomljanovic also made it safely through to round two.

Serena Williams lost the US Open final to Bianca Andreescu on Saturday, her fourth final in the last two years without a win. A win would make Williams the most winningest woman in the Open era of Grand Slams, surpassing Margaret Court's 23 titles. But her latest loss brings into question whether or not she still has what it takes to win a major. The Zone Blitz team answers the question.

Bianca Andreescu insists she is "not done yet" after spending years visualising the moment she would win the US Open, even writing herself fake winners' cheques.

The 19-year-old became Canada's first singles grand slam champion when she upset home favourite and Flushing Meadows great Serena Williams in Saturday's final, winning in straight sets to continue a remarkable ascent.

Andreescu won at Indian Wells and in the Rogers Cup, too, and reached a career-high number five in the WTA rankings on Monday following her New York success.

A long career at the top appears inevitable, with Andreescu still unbeaten against top-10 opponents, and she acknowledges there is now a desire to build on the US Open victory.

"I never thought it would be this hectic, but I'm not complaining," she told Good Morning America. "This is truly an amazing accomplishment but I could definitely get used to this feeling. I'm not done yet."

Williams had been bidding to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 major titles, but Andreescu's aim to triumph at Flushing Meadows was similarly long-standing.

She revealed one of her techniques had been to spend years picturing herself triumphing, determined to turn her wishes into reality.

"I've been visualising ever since I was 12 or 13 when my amazing mother introduced me to it," she said. "I find it very helpful.

"I think it's one of the most powerful tools we have, our minds. I believe that we create our reality with our minds. Ever since then, I've been picturing myself holding that trophy.

"I actually wrote myself a cheque for this tournament - back in 2015, it wasn't that much money [$3.85million in prize money] but, every year, I kept increasing it. For it to actually become a reality is just crazy."

Andreescu insists she was not interested in earning huge amounts for herself, though, instead determined to secure enough in prize money to allow her parents to travel with her on the WTA Tour.

"It definitely wasn't an easy road. I sacrificed a lot, my parents sacrificed a lot," she added.

"Just being with them to celebrate that moment was very special to me. I know they can't always travel. But I guess now they can."

Caroline Garcia had to battle hard to halt a four-match losing streak while fellow seeds Sofia Kenin and Petra Martic also progressed at the Zhengzhou Open.

Garcia had not recorded a victory on the WTA Tour since beating Kristyna Pliskova in Jurmala in July. She lost to Chloe Paquet in the last 16 at that tournament before suffering opening defeats in Toronto and Cincinnati.

Having lost in straight sets to Ons Jabeur at the US Open, the French eighth seed was forced to work hard against Tereza Martincova in China.

Garcia eventually prevailed on her third match point, securing a 6-4 4-6 7-5 result after two hours and 35 minutes on court.

Kenin began her campaign with a 6-2 7-5 win over Paquet. The American, seeded six for a tournament serving as a Premier event on the Asian swing for the first time, came back from a break down in the second set to triumph.

As for Martic, she overcame Italian Jasmine Paolini 7-5 6-1 in a match that lasted 74 minutes.

The other first-round match to take place on Monday saw Yulia Putintseva prevail 6-1 5-7 6-1 against Tamara Zidansek in a repeat of this year's Nuremberg Cup final, which the former also won in three sets.

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