LONDON (Reuters) - Former world number one Kim Clijsters’s return to the WTA Tour later this year will be great for women’s tennis, according to Serena Williams.
The 25-year-old Belgian retired from the sport two years ago to get married and have a baby but has opted to make her comeback at the Cincinnati Open in August.
“It will be great for the game to have such a great sportswoman back,” world number one Williams told Reuters.
“She is so nice, it will be good to have her around. She was so fit and she is young so I don’t think she will have problems.”
Clijsters, the 2005 U.S. Open champion, walked away from tennis while ranked fourth in the world after being plagued by a number of injuries during the latter stages of her career.
During her absence the WTA has addressed some of the issues that pushed her into early retirement, including shortening the season and reducing the number of tournaments that top players have to compete in.
The changes should help Clijsters to combine her tennis commitments with those of being a mother to 13-month-old Jada.
“I am delighted one of our great champions ... will be returning to professional tennis and the WTA Tour this year,” WTA chief Larry Scott said in a statement.
“Kim was an extremely popular player both with the fans and other players and it will be great to see her competitive spirit come alive again on court.”
World number three Jelena Jankovic said: “It’s really cool. She is a great girl, a great champion and a great athlete.
“It has to be good for us, the sport is all about great competition and personalities,” added the Serb.
Additional reporting by Simon Evans in Miami, editing by Tony Jimenez