The injury-delayed return to tennis of former No. 1 Kim Clijsters will start at next month’s Dubai event, officials revealed on Sunday.
The Belgian will make her comeback at the 20th edition of the WTA event which proceeds the men’s week at the Aviation Club in the emirate
The 36-year-old played her last match almost eight years ago at the 2012 US Open; she will be making her Dubai debut.
“I am really excited to be getting back to the match court,” the Belgian said in a statement. “I know it’s a special anniversary for the Dubai event so it’s an honour to be making my return to the game and debut in Dubai at the same time.
“I can’t wait to return to the game I love and play in front of the fans again – the support and encouragement that I’ve received since the announcement has been overwhelming.”
Clijsters, a mother of three, held the world No. 1 ranking for 19 weeks before her original brief retirement in 2007 and owns four Grand Slam titles.
After returning to the sport after the birth of her daughter, Clijsters won three of her four trophies at the majors and regained the top ranking in 2011 as she made her first career comeback..
Leading the field in Dubai will be Wimbledon holder Simona Halep, UD Open winner Bianca Andreescu, recent Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin, defending Dubai champion Belinda Bencic and January’s Brisbane winner Karolina Pliskova.
2020 finalist Elia Svitolina will play on a wild card.
Clijsters felt she needed a fresh challenge after her long hiatus from the game.
“Whenever I’m at a Grand Slam playing the legends, if somebody asked me ‘Hey, do you want to hit some balls.’
“I’m the first one to be like ‘I’ll hit. I’ll be the hitting partner for your practice today’,”
Clijsters told the WTA website.
“The love for the sport is obviously still there. I don’t feel like I need to prove anything, but I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon.
“This is where I’m saying ‘OK, let’s try this’.”