Clijsters makes happy Wimbledon return

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The Independent Online

Kim Clijsters compared her Wimbledon comeback to a first day at school after teaching Maria Elena Camerin a lesson in the first round at SW19 today.

Clijsters, making her first competitive appearance at Wimbledon in four years after coming out of retirement last summer, swaggered to a 6-0 6-3 win over her unseeded Italian opponent to ease into round two.

Rather like Wimbledon's new Court Two, which opened to general acclaim last year and played host to Clijsters' return today, the two-time semi-finalist has seen many changes since her last outing at the Championships in 2006.

Since suffering defeat in the semi-finals against fellow Belgian Justine Henin four years ago, Clijsters has married basketball player Brian Lynch and given birth to a daughter, Jada.

But the changes in her personal life have done nothing to dilute the importance she placed on her return to the All England Club.

"I was actually pretty nervous leaving the locker room and going out on court again," the 27-year-old revealed.

"It's just nerves. I guess you can probably compare it going to your first day of school after a school holiday. It's like excitement, curious, and a lot of emotions.

"It's the mixture of emotions I got to think that make you a little bit more nervous than normal."

If Clijsters' nerves were jangling, it was little in evidence against Camerin as she forced three early breaks of service on her way to taking the opening set in just 24 minutes.

Clijsters' dominance continued in the opening game of the second set as her greater power and precision began to give Camerin the runaround, and at times the gulf in class was painful to behold.

Camerin found another gear to hold her service for three games at the start of the second set before Clijsters finally made the breakthrough.

Leading 4-3, Clijsters forced three break points before converting as the resistance of the Italian was broken.

An emphatic display in the next game sealed the victory, Clijsters winning to love to set up a second-round encounter with Croatian Karolina Sprem.

The eighth seed, who will meet Henin in the fourth round if all goes to plan for the pair in the coming days, was far from perfect as she hit 16 unforced errors to Camerin's 14, but 20 winners to five was the more telling statistic as Clijsters did what was required.

"Obviously I could play better but overall I think I played a good match," Clijsters added.

"What's important on grass is that you stay on top of your baseline and that's something that I'm going to have to do. If I can do that, that's when I know I'm playing some of my best tennis."

Looking ahead to her match with world number 104 Sprem, Clijsters added: "My next match is going to be a very tricky one.

"That's where I'll probably get tested the most so far. So it's going to be a tricky one. I'll have to be ready."

Clijsters is viewed as a dark horse for the title despite failing to previously reach a final at SW19, but she believes she is a better player on grass than four years ago and has high hopes.

"I feel more comfortable on grass. I do feel the difference compared to a few years ago," she revealed.

"I know that if I play my best tennis I can definitely compete with the top players. But I have to do it every match."