NEW YORK - Kim Clijsters made history Sunday night, capping a comeback from two years out of tennis to become the first unseeded woman to win the U.S. Open - and the first mom to win a major since 1980 - with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki.
When it was over, Clijsters collapsed to the ground and started crying - tears of joy, probably mixed with a little bit of shock, too.
Her 18-month-old daughter, Jada, was in a suite with a pacifier in her mouth.
The unranked Belgian became the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980. This is Clijsters' second major championship. She also won at Flushing Meadows in 2005, her last appearance at the Open.
Clijsters, 26, hasn't played enough matches to be ranked, and she needed a wild card to get into the tournament. She's the first woman not in the top 10 of the WTA rankings to win the U.S. Open.
Wozniacki, 19, had never been past the fourth round at a major.
Clijsters beat five of the top 18 players in the world en route to the title, including both Williams sisters. Her stellar performance against Serena Williams in Saturday's semifinal was overshadowed by Williams' outburst that resulted in a penalty to decide the final point of the match.
In January, Clijsters was invited to play in an exhibition with Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi and Tim Henman to launch the new roof at Wimbledon. She figured she had to get back into shape so as not to embarrass herself.
And then she realized how much she missed the game, enjoying the training and the challenge once again.
When she decided to return to tennis after retiring at 23, she opted to ease back eight months into the 2009 season, hoping that with a few months of matches she would be ready to contend for titles in 2010.
Clijsters said she is fitter than before.
Said Serena Williams earlier in the tournament, "Seems like she's even faster than what she was before. I was thinking that maybe I should have a baby and then I'll come back faster."