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Rumors rife of Clijsters' comeback

FORMER top-ranked Kim Clijsters will hold a news conference tomorrow amid reports she is planning a full-time return to the sport.

The 25-year-old Belgian, who retired two years ago, will "unveil her plans for 2009" at the tennis center where she has been training recently.

Recent photos showed Clijsters looking close to competition fitness.

The Het Belang van Limburg regional newspaper said she was set to enter top-level tournaments again. The VTM television network said she could target the US Open, which she won in 2005 for her only grand slam title, as the highlight of her season.

A spokeswoman for Clijsters did not return repeated phone calls.

Even though she no longer has a WTA ranking, Clijsters could quickly be reintegrated by receiving wildcards for any tournament she wants to enter.

Clijsters retired from the WTA Tour in May 2007. She married pro basketball player Brian Lynch and gave birth to a daughter, Jada, in February 2008.

Fellow Belgian star Justine Henin retired last year while still ranked No. 1.

In her last competitive match two years ago, Clijsters lost in the Antwerp Diamond Games final to France's Amelie Mauresmo before a capacity 14,500 crowd at the city's Sport Palace.

Over the past month, Clijsters already announced she would play several exhibition and lower-level matches.

She will play Steffi Graf on May 17 as part of a series of exhibition matches at Wimbledon to test out the conditions under the new retractable roof over Centre Court.

She is also scheduled to play a June 14 exhibition at the Ordina Open in Rosmalen against Michaella Krajicek, as well as two matches for the St. Louis Aces in the World Team Tennis league during the summer.

Apart from winning the US Open, Clijsters reached four grand slam finals and won 34 singles titles overall. She won two grand slam doubles titles and held the No. 1 ranking for 19 weeks.


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