LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) - “Je ne regrette rien” was the refrain from Belgium’s Kim Clijsters on Sunday as she prepared to embark on her Wimbledon swansong knowing she is now too old to play the game the way she wants.
The 29-year-old announced last month that she would quit the sport - for the second time - following the U.S. Open later this year.
The four-times grand slam winner is currently battling to overcome an abdominal injury in time for the grasscourt slam, having missed the French Open last month with a hip problem.
Clijsters retired in 2007 to have a child before returning two years later to enjoy a remarkably successful second spell at the top winning, three of her four major titles.
Her creaking body has convinced her, however, that it is finally time to call it quits and this time she will not be coming back.
“I have no regrets, I know I always gave myself 100 percent,” she told reporters who had crammed into a small interview room at Wimbledon.
”(I am) too old to play the game that I want to play physically.
”I’ve put my body through enough strain and everything.
”The whole lifestyle, that’s what I‘m dealing with now, the lifestyle I’ve had for the last 15, 20 years. It’s been great. I wouldn’t change it for a thing.
”I‘m not going to be the type of player that’s going to change the way I play or the way that I move. I don’t have that.
”I naturally have that strong movement, powerful shots, and that’s been able to have me on top of women’s tennis and be on the highest part of women’s tennis, with Venus (Williams), Serena (Williams), Justine (Henin).
“So physically I need to be thankful for that, but it’s normal that that’s not going to last 20 years.”
Clijsters, who has never been past the semi-final at Wimbledon, faces a tricky first round encounter against Serbia’s 18th seed Jelena Jankovic on Monday.
”It will be tough,“ she said. ”Jankovic is a tough opponent. We’ve had some tough battles in the past.
“I look forward to it. Not being seeded, obviously it’s possible that you draw a high seed. So you have to be ready from the first match onwards. But it will be a tough one.” (Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by John Mehaffey)