Belgium's Clijsters feels at home at U.S. Open

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kim Clijsters might be nearly 4,000 miles away from her native Belgium but it is home life that occupies the thoughts of last year’s U.S. Open winner and the most famous mom in tennis.

Kim Clijsters of Belgium serves to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 3, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Clijsters, who celebrated her win last year by bringing her baby daughter Jada on court, has a house on the same street where her parents used to live in Bree, while her grandparents live two doors down.

But home life with her basketball-playing husband Brian Lynch is split between Belgium and the couple’s second home in New Jersey, not far from the scene of her finest tennis hour 12 months ago at Flushing Meadows.

Her nearby residence and her fairytale story from 2009 where she won the title in only her third tournament since returning to the sport has clearly tugged at the heartstrings of the American public.

As a result, the U.S. Open is very much a home grand slam for Clijsters, who eased into the fourth round with a 6-3 6-0 win over Czech Petra Kvitova on Friday.

“I mean, it’s home,” she said in reference to the New Jersey house “The house here and in Belgium are both home. I think you create that home atmosphere wherever you are.”

Clijsters received rapturous applause from spectators inside the Arthur Ashe Stadium throughout her latest match and remains among the favorites to win here for a third time.

The secret to the 27-year-old’s success has been a settled family life - she celebrated her third wedding anniversary shortly after her Wimbledon quarter-final exit.

“I have a lot of friends who it’s really made their life a lot better, I also have friends who have gotten divorced pretty quickly,” she said. “I’m not a marriage counselor but to me it’s been nothing but good, so I would sit here and recommend it to everybody.”

While Clijsters may not have struggled with married life, she certainly has with her serve. She admitted it had been a problem in recent weeks but she warned she was getting close to the sort of form that won her the title last year.

“I feel like I’m close - I think it’s only a matter of a few little details I think in my game that I just want to improve,” she said.

“I’m trying to achieve the perfect match but a match like today gives me more satisfaction because I beat a good player without even playing my best tennis.”

Editing by Frank Pingue