Clijsters advances at farewell event

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Three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters is ready to give up the globe-trotting tennis star life at the age of 29 in order to spend more time as a wife and mother. But first, she’s going to give winning a Grand Slam title one last try. The Belgian star began the final tournament of her WTA career by defeating American teen Victoria Duval 6-3, 6-1 on Monday on the same Arthur Ashe Stadium court where she captured US Open crowns in 2005, 2009 and 2010. “It’s going in the upward direction,” Clijsters said of her game, citing her comfort with New York and the courts as well as a strong week of practice. “I was playing a lot better in the second set.” Clijsters, whose Grand Slam title haul also includes last year’s Australian Open, stretched her US Open win streak to 22 matches. She has not lost at the US Open since falling to compatriot Justine Henin in the 2003 final. But she also has missed five of the past eight Flushing Meadows fortnights due to injury or retirement breaks. “I’ve trained very hard for the past year to try and stay in shape. I’m not worried that I’m not physically ready for it,” Clijsters said. Clijsters gave birth to daughter Jada, 4, in 2008 and has brought the child along with her in her global tennis travels. But Clijsters, who spent 20 weeks as World No. 1 in her career, said she knows the time is right to depart the sport now even though older players are still winning Grand Slams. “You feel it when it’s right,” Clijsters said. “It’s a feeling you need to have inside if you still want to keep going and you want more of those adrenaline rushes. I just know for me the time is right.” Not even another US Open title will keep her from a second and final retirement, Clijsters said, a fact that left men’s and women’s stars saddened.