Report: Clijsters to enter WTA events

WASHINGTON -- Former No. 1-ranked tennis player Kim Clijsters asked the U.S. Open about receiving a wild card for this year's tournament as part of her comeback plans, The Associated Press learned Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Clijsters, who retired in 2007 and gave birth to a child last year, will hold a news conference Thursday in Belgium to announce her 2009 plans.

A spokeswoman for Clijsters, the 2005 U.S. Open champion, did not return phone calls.

But a person who works at the U.S. Tennis Association told the AP there have been conversations between a tournament official and representatives of Clijsters about her participating in the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 31 in New York. The USTA told Clijsters she would receive a U.S. Open wild card if she were formally to request one.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because Clijsters has yet to announce her comeback, the person also said Clijsters' representatives told the U.S. Open official she would seek wild cards from events in Cincinnati and Toronto.

Those tournaments are both played in August and on hard courts, like the U.S. Open.

"At this time, Kim has not contacted the Tour regarding entry into Tour events," WTA spokesman Andrew Walker wrote in an e-mail to the AP.

The Belgian never returned to play in the U.S. Open after earning her lone Grand Slam championship there. A left wrist injury prevented her from defending her title at Flushing Meadows in 2006, and she announced her retirement in May 2007.

Clijsters was only 23 when she walked away, but she had already dealt with a series of injuries, including to her hip and back. She was the runner-up at four major tournaments and won 34 singles titles, along with two major doubles titles.

Rising to the top at the same time as another Belgian who retired early, Justine Henin, Clijsters held the No. 1 singles ranking for 19 weeks.

Thursday's news conference will be in Bree, Belgium, at the tennis facility where Clijsters has been practicing recently, sparking interest at home.

The Het Belang van Limburg regional newspaper reported she is set to enter top-level tournaments, while the VTM television network said she may target the U.S. Open as the highlight of her season.

Clijsters will join Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi and Tim Henman for a series of exhibition matches at Wimbledon on May 17 to test conditions under the new retractable roof on Centre Court.

She is also scheduled to play an exhibition June 14 against Michaella Krajicek in the Netherlands, along with two matches for the St. Louis Aces of World Team Tennis in July.