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Last London bash for Clijsters

WIMBLEDON, England — As a reporter began to ask about the first time Kim Clijsters retired only to return to tennis, the four-time major champion cut off the query with a smile and a quick response.

"No, this is it," she said Sunday. "If that's where you're going, this is it."

No doubt at all?

"No, no, no," Clijsters repeated.

The Belgian, who turned 29 on June 8, is at Wimbledon, which begins today, for only the second time in six years — and, yes, the absolute last time. Clijsters has announced she's leaving for good after the U.S. Open in September.


"Too old. Too old to play the game that I want to play physically. I've put my body through enough strain and everything," said Clijsters, one of three mothers to have won a Grand Slam title. "It's been great. I wouldn't change it for a thing,"

The daughter of a pro soccer player, she has derived much of her success from athleticism that helped produce punishing groundstrokes and stretching-into-the-splits court coverage.

Those abilities allowed her to win the U.S. Open in 2005, 2009 and 2010, and the Australian Open in 2011, the last three after she gave birth to her daughter in February 2008.

"I naturally have that strong movement, powerful shots, and that's been able to have me … on the highest part of women's tennis, with Venus (Williams), Serena (Williams), Justine (Henin), to be part of that," Clijsters said. "So physically, I need to be thankful for that, but, yeah, it's normal that that's not going to last 20 years."

Clijsters pulled out of the semifinals at a grass warmup tournament in the Netherlands on Friday because of what she called a flaring up of an abdominal muscle tear from last season. And that was her first action in nearly three months because of hip and ankle problems.

She heads into Wimbledon unseeded and ranked 47th. This is the only Grand Slam where she has never reached the final.

That doesn't mean Clijsters can't appreciate the place.

"I love the atmosphere that hangs around the courts here — the history, the tradition," she said. "You don't feel that vibe in any other Grand Slam. I think that's what makes this so unique."

FEDERER'S AIM: Never accuse Roger Federer of being shy.

He hasn't been past the quarterfinals of Wimbledon (or any grass tournament) in two years, and he's 30. The last 30-year-old to win a major was Andre Agassi at the 2003 Australian Open.

But Saturday, when Federer went to his first 2012 Wimbledon news conference, he wore a long-sleeved cream sweater trimmed in purple (a Wimbledon color) and an "RF" insignia on the right arm in green (another Wimbledon color).

There's only one aim for the Swiss star: a record-tying seventh crown. Only Willie Renshaw, a player from the 1880s who often got a bye to the final as defending champ, and Pete Sampras have won that many.

"Over a two-, three-week period, a lot of things can go wrong for you or go right for you, and if you come through, it's a beautiful feeling," Federer said. "I am dreaming of the title. There is no denying that."