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Kim Clijsters

Clijsters: how to combine motherhood and tennis


Exclusive: Kim Clijsters tells The Tennis Space how to combine motherhood and playing professional tennis.

Just do it
“I’ve spoken to Evonne Goolagong about what it was like winning Wimbledon as a mother. She said to me, ‘yeah, you should do it – you go out and play and if you lose, you lose, and the next day you’re home taking care of the kid’. That’s how I feel. Everyone asks me what my schedule is. Okay, there are days when it’s hard but you just do it.”

Quickly forget your defeats
“There have been times when I’ve been upset after losing a match and Jada comes over and within a minute I’ve been laughing, because she’s been silly. It makes you realise, ‘who cares?’ I work hard to achieve and do the best I can. I was brought up to think that I shouldn’t stress out too much about a tennis match. Try to learn from it, and don’t think that it’s the end of the world if you lose, because it really isn’t. It would be embarrassing to think like that. Don’t complain, throw you racket or have a big fit on court. That’s almost an embarrassment. It’s just a tennis match. I don’t think people should be doing that.”

Talk to your child about what you’re doing
“Jada understands that I go off to play tennis, or go off to the gym. She asks me why. I say, ‘Mummy needs to get fitter so she can work harder on the tennis court’. I talk to her about things like that. Have I spoken to her about mummy being famous? No, no, nothing like that. I remember growing up a bit in the spotlight because my father was a famous footballer. To us, dad was just dad. But I remember, at the weekend, we would go to a soccer game and we would try to wave at him. Young kids don’t think about fame.”

Recognise that you will be tired, that you won’t be napping in hotel rooms like other players
“Sometimes you have a tough day of working out and practising, and you really want to sleep, and you can’t do that. My sister is in a similar situation, where she has two very young kids, and she has the same sort of tiredness, so that’s also hard.”

Be prepared
“When we’re travelling, she can watch a DVD. We also take art supplies, so she can make bracelets with beads, or make pictures.”

Make sure your child has a routine
“It’s tiring, but fun. As a parent, you adjust to give her everything she needs. That’s important to us. It’s important that she has a routine and that she has a good, healthy lifestyle. That means a lot of sleep and healthy food. We stick to that. We have travelled with a steamer, and we go to organic stores to buy food. We travel with a lot of stuff. The suitcase is half full of clothes, half full of other stuff. I take a a knife so I can cut all the vegetables and fruit. You have to prepare for everything. Little things like, when she gets sick, I have some medication with me. You always worry, though. You’re more at ease when your own doctor is nearby.”

Don’t worry too much about changing time zones
“We let her slowly get into the time changes, and to adjust. We put her into bed a bit earlier or a bit later. We have to be flexible with that.”