NEW YORK - Kim Clijsters won the U.S. Open in just her third tournament back after 2 1/2 years of retirement and 18 months after the birth of her daughter.
The unseeded, unranked Belgian beat No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 7-5, 6-3 last night to become the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980. It's Clijsters' second major championship - she also won at Flushing Meadows in 2005, her last appearance at the Open.
The 26-year-old Clijsters hasn't even 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.
The 19-year-old Wozniacki had never been past the fourth round at a major.
With daughter Jada in the stands, Clijsters dropped to her knees after her overhead slam clinched the match.
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.
PAES-DLOUHY WIN: Leander Paes woke up yesterday morning not sure whether he could play for his fifth Grand Slam title in men's doubles. He hurt his elbow playing mixed doubles earlier in the tournament and his arm was sore from his shoulder to his triceps to the elbow.
But with a boost from teammate Lukas Dlouhy, Paes was celebrating another major victory. The fourth-seeded pair beat the No. 3 seeds, Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
"Every time I touched the ball there was so much pain that I didn't believe that I could actually go through the match and finish," Paes said.
Paes, of India, and Dlouhy, of Czech Republic, won the French Open earlier this year for their first Grand Slam championship together. They lost to the American team of Bob and Mike Bryan in last year's U.S. Open final but beat them in the semifinals this year.
"Today he's shown amazing maturity to lead the team," the 36-year-old Paes said of the 26-year-old Dlouhy. "Normally he likes to follow in the team. I have no problem leading the team, but I was good today but I followed him today. I think that's the beauty of the best doubles teams in the world."
MARRIED TO TENNIS: Novak Djokovic believes he sees a refreshed Roger Federer now that the Swiss great has gotten married, become a father and broken the record for career Grand Slam titles.
"The way he stands on the court, the way he approaches the matches, it's different," Djokovic said in a news conference after losing to Federer in the U.S. Open semifinals Sunday. "It's more relaxed."
Then somebody suggested that maybe Djokovic should get married.
Laughing, Djokovic pointed to the back of the room - where his girlfriend was sitting.
"Now, you give her reason enough to ask," he joked. "She's going to expect something in the next couple of weeks."
MEDITATING: How does a player stay motivated after 375 straight singles victories? Yoga, perhaps.
Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands won her fourth U.S. Open women's wheelchair championship Sunday, beating countrywoman Korie Homan 6-0, 6-0 in 41 minutes. She has not lost a singles match since January 2003.
Now Vergeer wants to incorporate yoga and meditation into her training.
"To keep myself motivated I have to find new things," she said. "Of course I know how to hit a forehand now, and I don't really have to learn how to do it. I just have to remain at the level that I have now and of course improve. I think this is going to motivate myself and give myself inspiration."
Vergeer and Homan also teamed up to win the doubles title.
The 28-year-old Vergeer lost the ability to use her legs in 1990 after undergoing surgery for a spinal defect and brain hemorrhage.
Vergeer is seeking a new coach as she keeps pushing herself to a higher level. She hopes she can inspire other wheelchair athletes to challenge themselves.47.90836 -122.2766