FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY - In a pre-tounament US Open news conference Kim Clijsters called Serena Williams the “best ever.”
“I mean, to me Serena is the best ever just because I think physically she just stands out,” said the Belgian playing in her last US Open.
“When she’s in good shape I think she just stands out tremendously. I mean, you know, she’s fast, she’s strong, she has a very good eye, as well. I think the combination of that is ‑‑ I mean, what we have seen over the last few months is the best player ever.”
Clijsters spoke to media about Serena being an inspiring figure.
“Every day there is people that inspire me just by whether it’s, you know, seeing a mother on TV or seeing ‑‑ reading a story in the paper,”Clijsters said. ”
“Serena’s is one of those, as well, what she’s been through. Not just with, you know, the health problems, but dealing with the loss of their sister and all those kinds of things.
“It’s not just one thing. We sit here and do our press conferences, but we have a personal life, too. That’s something that’s maybe not always ‑‑ you know, on the court everything always looks great and perfect, but it’s not always that way.
“I think it’s great to have, you know, big names like that and open up about it and be role models, as well.”
In her news conference later Serena Williams was questioned about Clijsters comment.
“I never think about that, Williams said. “I can’t sit here and say I’m the best ever. I’m not. I’m not worthy of that title. I’m just Serena. I love playing tennis and I’m good at it. Just because I’m good at it doesn’t make me the best.
“I think Kim, you know, she’s had such a fabulous career, especially here at the Open. She just brings some special tennis. She’s always so bright and has such a positiveness about her that you can’t help but wish her the best.”
Sister Venus was also asked about Clijsters’ comment about Serena: She’s amazing, I think when she’s playing great and feeling confident ‑ even when she isn’t ‑ it still takes a hurricane to beat her. You have to be on your best tennis and basically make no errors. I think her record speaks for what an amazing player she is.
Clijsters is looking forward to her final US Open.
“I’m excited,” Clijsters said. “I’m obviously very excited to be back here after not being able to participate last year due to an injury in my stomach muscle. I’m really excited to be here.
“You know, obviously this place is magical for me. I have had so many beautiful memories. I have enjoyed coming here from when I was a junior.
“You know, I love the surface, I love the atmosphere, and I’m excited. I’m not really thinking about retiring yet, you know. I’m still focusing on trying to, you know, be in the best shape that I can be.
“You know, when I start Monday I want to be playing well. I’m focusing on that for now.”
Clijsters plays her first match at the US Open on Monday. She’ll play the first night session match versus young American Victoria Duval.
Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.