It was a matchup between a multiple-time Grand Slam champion and International Tennis Hall of Famer, and the reigning Australian Open champion and one of tennis’ brightest young stars, as Kim Clijsters of the New York Empire took on the Philadelphia Freedoms’ Sofia Kenin on Wednesday afternoon.
Clijsters got the better of the young phenom, winning 5-3 in a key Women’s Singles match as the Empire secured its first win of the season, defeating the Freedoms 25-17.
“I’ve really enjoyed watching her, win the Australian Open but already before that,” Clijsters said of Kenin. “Just seeing her grow into being a Grand Slam champion has been nice to see. She’s so young and has so much more to gain.”
Clijsters’ victory was one of five wins for the Empire who took all five flights against the Freedoms.
“We realized how good they were…and felt we had to bring it from the start,” said Clijsters. “We didn’t have a letdown. In World TeamTennis, that type of energy is really important. You have to be ready from the start and we all had that mindset today.”
Video courtesy of World TeamTennis
Clijsters teamed up with Neal Skupski to get the Empire off to a good start on Wednesday, defeating Fabrice Martin and Taylor Townsend 5-4 in the Mixed Doubles flight. Following that, Sabine Lisicki and Kveta Peschke won 5-4 over Townsend and Caroline Dolehide.
To bolster the lead, Skupski and Jack Sock notched a 5-3 win over Martin and Donald Young in Men’s Doubles. Clijsters then defeated Kenin, and Sock sealed the Empire win with a 5-3 Men’s Singles triumph over fellow American Taylor Fritz.
In other WTT action on Wednesday, the Chicago Smash defeated the Orange County Breakers 23-16, while the Washington Kastles edged the San Diego Aviators 21-19.
The Empire return to the court on Thursday night when it takes on the Orlando Storm.