Kim Clijsters is helping Judith to reach the top

Kim Clijsters en Judith van Kessel

Talented young tennis players in the Netherlands generally join the academy of tennis association KNLTB. Judith van Kessel took a different approach: her path to the top leads through Kim Clijsters’s tennis school in Belgium.

Kim runs her own tennis academy in Bree, where she prepares talented players for a career at the highest level of the game. Technology is used side-by-side with the expertise that Kim and her coaching team gained over the course of a unique career that saw her claim four Grand Slam titles and hold the number 1 ranking in the world.

A source of inspiration

Carl Maes, who was Clijsters’s coach for years and now manages the academy, mentions one of the paths that lead to success. ‘In a sport that demands so many years of training, you sometimes need a source of inspiration, whether it’s big or small. The star players of the moment say how they became inspired by retrieving balls at a tournament, for example, or spending half an hour on court with a big star.’

'An amazing programme'

Carl’s vision matches the philosophy underpinning ABN AMRO’s programme, which seeks to provide activities and training to make the path from talented amateur to tennis pro as smooth as possible. ‘I think that Richard has an amazing programme,’ he says. ‘Kim wants to do something of her own for the young players she coaches. On this very long road, with its inevitable setbacks, you need these moments of inspiration to keep you going.’ Fresh from a training session with Judith van Kessel, Kim Clijsters adds, ‘To me, my contribution is almost a duty. Tennis has given me so many wonderful experiences. I’d love to pass on what I know to the next generation.’

Find out how crowdfunding is helping Diede de Groot realise her dream.