Former world number one Kim Clijsters was beaten 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 against Hsieh Su-Wei in her comeback match at the Chicago Falls Tennis Classic on Monday.
The 38-year-old was playing for the first time since the 2020 US Open after accepting a wild card into the event, but fell to a defeat in the opening round.
Clijsters feels like her game is improving despite the three-sets defeat.
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“Obviously, it was exciting to go back out there after a long period of recovery," Clijsters said in her post-match press conference.
"Super excited to be here and to start my match. The match, you know, some good things and bad things, inconsistency.
"Physically being able to get through these matches without big concerns, that was the main goal. I came close today, but I still have a good feeling.
I’ve made progress, and I think that’s the most important thing. What I’m looking at is that I’m improving overall, and that’s the positive thing.
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Clijsters came back from retirement in February 2020 and played in two WTA Tour events before the global Covid-19 outbreak saw the tennis calendar get suspended.
The four-time Grand Slam champion returned for the US Open last year but lost to Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova before requiring knee surgery. Clijsters then contracted coronavirus in January this year.
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Clijsters is making her third comeback in the sport. After winning the US Open in 2005, she retired in 2007 before returning in 2009. She won the US Open again in the same year as an unseeded wild card.
She went on to defend her title in 2010 and won the Australian Open in 2011 before retiring for a second time in 2012.
Clijsters says she is taking inspiration from former British number one Andy Murray as she looks to return to the top of the sport.
"Seeing Andy Murray and the way he speaks about his comeback and everything, it's so motivating and it gives you a lot of energy too," Clijsters said.
"To see him go through the things he's gone through and be open about the challenges of it and the belief that he has, I feel like it's something I can relate to."
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