(2 SEPTEMBER) So this is really it. Kim has just played her very last professional tennis match, as she and Bob Bryan have lost their US Open mixed doubles 2nd round to Makarova/Soares 2-6 6-3 10-12.
'It's surprising that I kept it dry, I haven't been crying', Kim said. 'I think that's just another sign that it's the right choice.'
Kim, a four-time Grand Slam champion, announced months ago the U.S. Open would be her last tournament. She lost to British teen Laura Robson in the women's singles 2nd round on Wednesday, snapping a 22-match winning streak at Flushing Meadows, where the Belgian won titles in 2005, 2009 and 2010.
Kim and Kirsten Flipkens then lost in the 1st round of women's doubles on Thursday.
The mixed doubles loss pulled down the curtain on the 29-year-old Belgian's career. It came with her husband, Brian Lynch, watching from the stands with their 4-year-old daughter, Jada, in his lap playing with a stuffed animal.
When it was over, security guards worked hard to clear a path from the court to the locker room, as Kim was swarmed by TV cameras, autograph seekers and other fans -- all trying to grab one more memory from a player whose smile and positive attitude spoke as loudly as her game.
'You can feel the fans', Bob Bryan said. 'But the people in the locker room, when they love you and they respect you that much, that's true character. That's what Kim has.'
Kim said even though she gave it her all for the match, she couldn't feign heartbreak over her latest (and last) loss.
'Do you want me to say I'm shattered that we lost?' she said, in jest, to Bryan.
If she couldn't go out a winner, at least she can say she was part of an entertaining show.
She and Bryan saved four match points in the super-tiebreaker used to decide the match and Kim hit the key shots on all those points. The best was a looping crosscourt, backhand lob that nobody could touch. It made the score 10-10 and Clijsters pumped both fists and shouted her trademark 'Come oooon!'
'I just didn't want to miss or hit a bad shot on match point and let that be my last professional point ever', she said. 'I wanted to go for it. Luckily, it worked a couple times.'
The last shot came on a serve Makarova sliced into her body. Kim couldn't handle it. The crowd groaned. Then cheered while the former World No. 1 and Bryan hugged.
'Life goes on', Kim said in an on-court interview. 'I'm getting older. I've had a few injuries. It doesn't mean I don't love the sport. That's one of the reasons I wanted to come out here and play mixed.'
Bryan, who has 11 Grand Slam doubles titles with his brother, Mike, said regardless of whether they get No. 12 next weekend, the chance to play with Kim 'really is the highlight of the tournament.'
Soares agreed. He and Makarova have combined to oust Kim, both Bryan brothers and Lisa Raymond, who has 11 Grand Slam doubles titles to her name, on back-to-back nights.
'But to be honest, it came to a moment where winning or losing was just a small part of the whole thing tonight', Soares said. 'It was just so nice, so fulfilling to be playing that match. I was happy either way.'
Kim was, too.
'I had a great night', she said. 'And I couldn't have asked for a better way to finish here.'
Kim will spend a few more days in New York before flying back to Belgium.
adapted from www.espn.com