By Ann Liguori
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Three-time US Open champ Kim Clijsters has called it a career. The 29-year-old from Belgium had announced that this Open would be her last tournament and on a late afternoon on the Arthur Ashe showcase court, Clijsters could not overcome the aggressive play of 18-year-old Laura Robson of Great Britain. Robson beat her 7-6, 7-6, sending one of the nicest players in tennis history home for good (as a singles player).

Clijsters rallied back from being down two match points to force a second set tie-breaker but Robson kept the pressure on, dictated most of the points and looked quite impressive.

Clijsters won the titles here in 2005, 2009 and 2010 and prior to this match, had won her last 22 matches at Flushing Meadows.

After the match, Robson said of Clijsters: “Kim was such a great role model for me for so many years.”

Robson then turned to Clijsters and said, “I grew up watching you and thank you.”

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Clijsters then thanked the crowd for their fan support and told ESPN’s Pam Shriver, “One of my biggest dreams came true in 2005, winning here, and every time I came back, I was so inspired by the energy of this crowd … it’s a perfect place to retire. I just wish it wasn’t today … but I look forward to my life coming up.”

In 2009, Clijsters came out of retirement as a mother and won her second US Open title. She said she hadn’t picked up a racket in months after her daughter was born. Her father passed away around the same time and “when I won the US Open nine months later, it was an emotional roller coaster.”

Clijsters has been a positive role model, both as a player, a mother and a friend to so many. She’s a great competitor, a great fighter on the court, with such class and grace off the court.

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She said that this major inspired her to do so well but she inspired so many with her class and grace.

In her 14-year professional career, Clijsters compiled four major championships, 41 titles and spent twenty weeks as the top-ranked player in the world.

But most importantly, Clijsters is ‘all-class’ as a person – a true champion, on and off the court!

What’s your favorite Clijsters moment? Let Ann know in the comments below!