'Big release' for Clijsters as career ends
The professional tennis career of Kim Clijsters officially ended on Saturday when the Belgian lost in the second round of the mixed doubles event at the US Open.
The four-times Grand Slam winner, partnered by American Bob Bryan, lost to Russian Ekaterina Makarova and Brazilian Bruno Soares, losing 6-2, 3-6 (12-10).
Clijsters had announced she was retiring after the US Open to focus on her family and had already lost in singles and women's doubles.
The three-times US Open singles champion said she would like to be remembered for always giving 100 percent effort.
"I always tried to give my best," she told reporters in her post-match news conference.
"Even from when I was eight years old until this last match, I always tried to give my best in everything that I did, whether it was sitting here or on the practice court," she added.
Image: Kim Clijsters of Belgium and her partner Bob Bryan of the United States reacts after defeating Irina Falconi of the United States and Steve Johnson of the United States
Photographs: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for USTA
'Thinking about the retirement, I'm happy'
Clijsters, earlier lost her singles ended as she lost to British teenager Laura Robson 7-6, 7-6.
"I think in the first hour after the match there was still disappointment and a little bit of frustration," the three-time champion said.
"But after talking and thinking about the retirement, I'm happy.
"In the last year and a half or even two years, it's been kind of up and down and I'm happy that I stuck through it and was able to live a lot of these emotions that I've had. I'm kind of proud of myself that I was able to do that," she added.
Image: Kim Clijsters of Belgium opens gifts from members of the Belgian media
Photographs: Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
Four Grand Slam titles
Clijsters singled out being world number one, winning four Grand Slam titles and her WTA Championships as her best achievements, as well as becoming the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since 1980.
"I feel proud that I was able to win a Slam as a mother, just because I know how much work it took after I had Jada to get back physically, tennis-wise, and mentally to get back into the sport."
In her "first" career before entering a two-year retirement in 2007, Clijsters was seen as something of a nearly-girl, losing her first four Grand Slam finals.
But her win in New York in 2005 changed everything and when she returned in 2009 having had her daughter, she was even better, winning two more US Opens and an Australian Open crown.
"It's been an incredible journey and a lot of dreams for me have come true because of tennis," she said.
"It's not just the tennis side of things that you think about now, it's about life. We've had a lot of things happen in these last 15 years that I've been on tour.
"I'm able to look back at them, and I'm very happy with the progress that I've made."
Image: Kim Clijsters with the US Open trophy in 2009
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
The 29-year-old said she had remained focused for the doubles and mixed doubles even though it "was a lot more relaxed obviously than my singles".
Clijsters said she has no regrets about putting her racket down. "When I was in the shower, I was like, 'whew,' like a big release. It feels right."
Image: Kim Clijsters of Belgium reacts during a first round mixed doubles match with her partner Bob Bryan
Photographs: Al Bello/Getty Images