MONTE CARLO - Former world number one Kim Clijsters will miss out on a final chance to claim an elusive French Open title after opting to skip the entire claycourt season due to a hip injury.
The popular Belgian has been laid low by numerous injuries throughout her 13-year career, her feet, ankles, hips wrists and shoulders all feeling the strain at some stage, and she has decided not to risk aggravating her latest hip problem by playing on the punishing slow surface.
"It's such a pity not to be able to play a last claycourt season. But I can't be fully fit for the French Open (which begins on May 27)," Clijsters, who will retire from professional tennis at the end of the season, was quoted as saying on her website (www.kimclijsters.be) on Tuesday.
"I really look forward to starting a long training to be ready for the grasscourt season where I will pursue two main goals at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games."
Since making her comeback in 2009 following a 2-1/2 year maternity break, Clijsters has won three grand slam titles but has also struggled to play a full schedule on the WTA tour.
Her sole appearance at Roland Garros during the second phase of her career was last year, when she lost in the second round.
Her participation in Paris followed a two-month layoff after an ankle injury. After that defeat, she played in only two tournaments during the rest of the season and was forced to miss Wimbledon (foot injury) and the defence of her U.S. Open crown (stomach muscle problem).
She returned to action at the Australian Open in January, where her injury jinx struck again as she badly sprained her ankle in the fourth round but battled on before falling to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals.
The rolled ankle meant Clijsters was again sidelined for two months but when she made the yet another comeback in Miami, she was floored by the hip problem.
Clijsters said she planned to resume full training in three weeks and to be back on the courts at the Wimbledon warm-up event in Den Bosch.
The Olympic tennis tournament will also be staged on the green lawns of Wimbledon at the end of July.