Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Farewell Tour

There's much to be admired about the Farewell Tour of Kim Clijsters. Last year, it was Andre Agassi doing his own shortened version of such a farewell, giving fans an opportunity to reflect and bid good-bye to one of the game's greatest champions.

This year will be a bit different for the gal from Belgium. She certainly doesn't have the track record of Agassi, or - of course - the longevity. If she doesn't win another slam this year, Clijsters will certainly go down as the most talented one-slam wonder of all time, man or woman.

Yet there's some good these departures do for the game: they give us a chance to think. Agassi let us look at where tennis has gone from the mid '80s to today and Clijsters - I believe - will make us look more inside ourselves than anywhere else.

Tennis is about personalities. It's about people who do good things on the court, but great things off the court. Billie Jean King. Arthur Ashe. Andre Agassi. These champions will always be remembered for who they were as tennis players, but they are household names today because of who they are as people.

Kim Clijsters will never reach the household-name status that those other champions did. But Clijsters made us all think about ourselves, about the kind of people we are and the kind of people we want to be. Clijsters just may be one of the best tennis athletes we've ever seen, but for Kimmie, it's time for family and friends.

As much as I hate to see Clijsters go, I respect her decision and understand that tennis is not her life. She has other plans. Maybe that's something we should all think about.

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