Signed, sealed and delivered... to the doorstep of Ms. Kim Clijsters:
Well, the time has come. I guess we always knew it would. Time to say goodbye.
It's been a long time coming. I actually thought I was going to be sad. Truthfully, though, I'm not. Partially it's because it's been pretty apparent that you're more than ready to leave for good. When you first came back, things were different for you. After a while, they ended up being different for me, too. Trust me, I didn't see that coming.
But, really, you earned the change of opinion with the way you made up for lost time in your second career on tour. You got to experience a lot of great things that you didn't the first time around. You know, like living up to expectations, and sometimes exceeding them. For that first fifteen months or so, you were a "killer." And I mean that in a good way. But then the injuries returned, and it wasn't so much fun anymore. I think we both know that you'd probably have walked away earlier than planned (just like you did back in ''07 when the injuries piled up) were it not for the Olympics. For a bit there, I didn't think you'd even be healthy enough to make THAT date. But, maybe you took my advice and took to wrapping yourself in bubble wrap for most of this year.
Whatever it was, it worked. So good for you!
Now, mind you, I didn't transform into one of the mouth-watering sycophants that often greet you in the media room or in front of the television cameras. But I have gotten to the point where I don't blanche when I see you. Sometimes, over the past year and a half, you've even made me smile and root for you to win. That was a first for me. But you were different the second time around, too.
And, no, it's not because you were a mother. As you know, I've expressed the notion, and I think you agree with it, that you were nothing special just because you had a baby and then resumed your career. You were probably just too polite to make some of those people who acted as if you were feel slighted if you'd actually attempted to put them and their narrow-minded, and inadvertently insulting (to people, women and players other than you) words, into their proper place. They WERE complimenting you, after all. Secretly, though, I DO wish you'd unloaded on them once with some thoughtful comments about how all the talk of how "impossible" it was to be a mother AND have a career actually served to not only make YOU seem strong, but also to make many other woman seem incapable and weak by comparison. Come to think of it, you really SHOULD have said or done something more than just to ever-so-slightly try to ignore or brush-off the adulation. In the same position, I'm sure Venus would have done just that. But I guess I couldn't expect you to finally become a great champion, as well as someone who'd be willing to take on big issues head-on, especially if it might have gotten a few people upset with you for bringing it up. I mean, you're not Super Woman, right? Though, again, it WOULD have been nice if you'd always made a note to point that out when you were drawn that way.
But I digress.
The statue in Belgium, the champagne, and the Barbie doll aside, in the end, all I ever really wanted from you was for you to do something on the court worthy of the utmost admiration. Everyone said you were nice. Truthfully, I never really cared about that. In the end, it was about respect. When you left the first time around, I wasn't ready to give it. You'd left too much on the table, and come up small in too many big situations to be viewed as a great champion.
But then you came back, and you won. And won again. And then again on the biggest of stages. Never has a player returned from such an extended absence and come back so much better than they'd been before. I respected that. When we... err, I mean, you... won in Melbourne last year, for the first time, I was truly happy for you. I'd set up an obstacle for you to clear at the start of that event, and when you did, I enacted our "truce." Sure, I wavered on it a bit a short time later, but I soon realized that I couldn't renege on our "deal." You didn't deserve that. Not this time.
When it was finally time for you to go last week, I wanted to catch as much of your final go-around as I could. I really didn't want it to end. Not when it did, at least. I was just beginning to like you. Of course, maybe it was because all your injuries conspired to keep you out of action for so much of the last year and a half of your second career, and the absence made my heart grow fonder. Maybe I'd already seen enough -- and you'd done enough -- that anything more would have ruined the "happy medium" that we'd managed to create after a decade of backbiting and snarling.
In the end, I'm glad I wasn't pushing you out the door. And, right before you left the stage for the last time, after you'd let everyone else tear up about your departure, yet never shed a tear yourself? I respected THAT about you, too. And how you pointed out to everyone that you'd managed to stay emotionally strong? I LOVED that.
It took a long time getting to that point. So it's probably best for us to part ways for good now, just to make sure we leave these uncorrupted memories and emotions in place. I mean, why mess with that, right? Oh, I'm sure I'll still see you around sometime. But, you know, it won't be the same. And maybe that's for the best.
No hard feelings.
♥ ya, Kim... and goodbye.
P.S. -- Say hi to Jada.
All for now.