What is it like to retire from a career in professional sport, a career that has seen you reach the very top?, and then attempt a comeback?

Former world No. 1 Kim Clijsters gave an insight into that – and attempting the comeback – this week, admitting that after two years on that comeback trail it’s getting harder and harder.

Kim Clijsters with daughter Jada after winning the US Open in 2009. Photo:Anne Parker Fotosports International

Clijsters came out of retirement two years ago to have another crack at making it back to the top.

Now 38, the Belgian has been struggling to combine a family life with the rigours of the WTA tour.

She appeared in three tournaments in 2020, picking up three first round exits and last year she played in two tournaments with first round exits in both.

“It has become more complicated to combine everything with family life,” Clijsters admitted this week.

Kim Clijsters and her family.

She currently has no scheduled tournaments for 2022.

“When I started this, I wanted to give it a really good shot for two years – those two years will end at the end of this year,” Clijsters said last October.

“Obviously COVID kind of changed everything up a little bit, timing-wise.

“Obviously for a lot of players that wasn’t fun but made it a little tougher also for me. On the other hand I was home, I didn’t have to worry about being away and travelling without the kids or putting them in the bubble with me and those kinds of things.”

Clijsters admitted that being away from her kids while she travels has been difficult.

“There’s moments where my son is like, ‘Hey Mom, I want you to lose tomorrow so that means that you can come home,’ or it’s like, ‘Hey mom, we were cheering for you when we saw you on TV, and we want you to win,’ so it changes!” Clijsters admitted.

SERBIAN officials this week insisted the COVID-19 test results submitted to Australian officials by Novak Djokovic were valid.

After Djokovic was deported from Australia over visa irregularities the BBC reported discrepancies in Djokovic’s COVID-19 tests, with the serial number/confirmation code on his positive test being higher than the one on his negative test from December 22.

And photos of Djokovic taking part in public events after his positive test were leaked.

The Belgrade Public Prosecutor’s office this week insisted the results were not falsified.

“It was established that Novak Djokovic was tested multiple times and the… test results from December 16 and December 22 were valid,” it said.

But there was no evidence offered to counter the BBC report of the clear discrepancies in the test codes.

Make your own mind up.

As new footage emerged of him training ahead of a comeback in Dubai, Djokovic said he was “ready to bear the consequences” of his decision not to be vaccinated.

“Nothing depends on me at the moment,” Djokovic told Serbian public broadcaster RTS.

“It depends on the rules of the tournament. I know that I can go to Dubai. I train hard and I have a great desire to play in Grand Slams and Masters.

“The rules are constantly changing, I am open-minded and I am not exclusive. I try to understand everything.”

The Dubai Open begins tomorrow and culminates with the men’s final on February 26.

  • Meanwhile, Italian Health Undersecretary Andrea Costa is against allowing Djokovic to take part in the Italian Open in May.

Government colleague Valentina Vezzali had earlier suggested the world No.1 would be allowed to compete.

“I’m not convinced by the reasons Undersecretary Vezzali gave when she said Djokovic will be able to take part in the Italian Open in Rome,” Costa told Radio 24.

“There are rules that must be respected while they are in place.

“I think we must all be equal before the rules.

“Those who have a big following, who can help us with this effort, have even more reason to give a good example.

“So I am against the presence of Djokovic at the Italian Open in Rome”.

Alex de Minaur in action at the US Open last year. Photo: Brad Penner/USTA

AUSSIE Alex de Minaur was forced to issue a statement after media reports suggested he was being investigated by Spanish authorities over the use of fake COVID-19 documentation this week.

A Spanish TV report claimed de Minaur was among a number of high-profile people who may have been involved in a fake COVID-19 passport scam.

Spanish police have so far arrested seven people for selling passports across the European Union and have been accused of falsely registering an estimated 1,600 people on Spain’s national vaccination index.

De Minaur’s response in Twitter:

“Hi everyone. I wanted to write a quick message here to avoid any misunderstanding regarding a report that is in the Spanish media about my vaccination certificate.

“I received my first dose of the vaccine in London last summer, and the second one at the Hospital La Paz in Madrid.

“News came out today that the hospital is under investigation for providing falsified covid certificates to some of its patients.

“I want to make it 100% clear that I received my second shot, that I have a completely valid, accurate and true vaccination record.

“Everyone around me, including my family, is fully vaccinated.

“I am not ‘under investigation’ in any way as is being suggested and my name is connected to this story simply because I was a patient at the hospital (as many thousands of others were).”

The 23-year-old is based in Spain during the European season. His father, Anibal, is Uruguayan and his mother, Esther, is Spanish but he was born in Sydney.

Serena Williams with former F1 champion Lewis Hamilton in Monaco last May.

SERENA Williams sees the King Richard movie as just Ione of many. Stories to be told about her and sister Venus – and their entire family.

“I am a dreamer, and I love Marvel. I think King Richard is like Iron Man and that there are still other stories around it,” Serena said.

“The next, obviously, would be the Venus story, and then there’s always the story about our other three sisters, and then there’s like a mom, and then there’s the Serena story.

“When I look at it, I see it just encompassing this whole superhero kind of thing.”

Serena added that tennis was never a burden for her and Venus and that is one of the main reasons why they are still active.

“A lot of people get this different story of sports fathers—especially tennis fathers, who are really overbearing. And that wasn’t necessarily my dad,” Serena said.

Serena Williams waves to the crowd after her fourth round loss at Roland Garros in 2021. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

“Everyone’s like, ‘Well, how do you play tennis for so long?’ It’s because we weren’t raised in an environment where it was something that we abhorred.”

Serena hasn’t played since retiring her first round match at Wimbledon last year, but still plans to return ‘sometime’ in 2022.

Kyle Edmund slumps in his chair at the end of a gruelling five setter in Melbourne in 2018. Photo Roger Parker International Sports Fotos

BRITISH player Kyle Edmund suffered another blow to his comeback on Friday night when his home was hit by Storm Eunice in the UK.

The storm, which cased the deaths of three people as it swept across the country, also damaged Edmund’s home.

Bizarrely, the garden furniture, left of picture below, seems to have missed the storm.

Edmunds is still recovering from a chronic knee injury that blighted his 2021 campaign.

Kyle Edmund’s damaged home after Storm Eunice hit the UK.

“MURRAY mauled by Bautista Agut” is not the sort of headline British tennis fans find easy to read.

Former World No. 1 and Brit favourite Andy Murray suffered a humiliating and brutal 6-0, 6-1 defeat at the hands of Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round of the Qatar Open on Wednesday, prompting calls for him to retire.

It was Murray’s worst defeat on seven years.

And the match reports did him no favours.

One report stated: “This was a real hammering, especially in a first set that saw Bautista Agut win 25 points and lose just eight.

“Murray was spraying unforced errors in all directions from the very first point, which saw a backhand miss its mark.”

What direction Murray goes in next is still unclear, but he really does need to sort out a new coach.

Riccardo Piatti is now free after ending his relationship with Jannik Sinner, and David Ferrer is another possibility.

Murray is also playing with a new racket, reported to have a larger head, so finding those sweet spots may take a little longer.

And some are questioning his decision to part ways with short-term coach Jan de Witt.

Ash Barty downs a beer after her Australian Open victory last month.

AND finally …

When Ash Barty cracked a beer live on television to celebrate her Australian Open win last month, little did she know what would follow.

Barty insisted the panel join her as she wasn’t going to drink alone, adding, she was a Corona girl.

Swigging a beer at 9.30pm local time on TV, even after such an historic victory, caused a stir with a small minority of temperance campaigners, with a complaint made to the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code.

So here’s the complaint:

“There was a large, nicely presented display of Peroni and Corona beers in the TV interview with Ash Barty who just won the tennis final.

“The host asked the player which beer she would like. All panel members proceeded to drink the beers, mentioning the brand names whilst doing it.

“I think the segment glorified and glamorised alcohol and was very deceptive if it was indeed a paid promotion. Why else are they doing it if it wasn’t a paid stunt? It’s poor when many children were up watching the final and Ash Barty is a role model for many girls too.”

Brewers Carlton and United confirmed it had no commercial partnership with the TV broadcaster and although Peroni was an official partner of the Open, it had no placement agreement.

The complaint was dismissed this week, and responding to the question that it “glorified and glamorised” alcohol consumption, the ABAC stated:

“Many Australians enjoy drinking beer responsibly, and we reject the notion that depicting panellists taking moderate sips of beer on television in any way constitutes irresponsible or offensive behaviour.”

And as for the 9.30pm time slot on a Saturday night?

Alcohol advertisements can be legally shown on TV at that time. Barty had not consumed alcohol during the tournament which showed she “was clearly a moderate and responsible consumer of alcohol”.

“Not every reference to alcohol in everyday life is ‘alcohol marketing’.”