Kim Clijsters Photo #1: Backswing for Two-Handed Backhand

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Kim Clijsters Photo #1: Backswing for Two-Handed Backhand

Kim Clijsters has one of the most powerful backhands on the WTA Tour, in large part because she pulls the racquet back so far on the backswing; a longer forward path to the ball gives the racquet more time to acquire speed. Kim uses the most common grip combination, with the right hand in a Continental position and the left in an Eastern forehand position.

Kim Clijsters Photo #2:Two-Handed Backhand Point of Contact

This photo captures Kim's impressive arm and leg muscles delivering power and topspin to her two-handed backhand. The upward thrust of her legs is evident in only one of her feet touching the ground, and just barely. Kim's point of contact might arguably be a bit close here, but the long axis of her racquet is nicely parallel to the ground, and she has kept her head perfectly locked onto the ball.

Kim Clijsters Photo #3:Two-Handed Backhand Follow-Through

Kim demonstrates the long, wrapped-around follow-through you'd expect from a swing that began with as long a backswing as we saw in the first photo.

Kim Clijsters Photo #4: One-Handed Slice Backhand

Along with her incredible foot speed and powerful groundstrokes, Kim Clijsters has good versatility. She can use a one-handed slice backhand both as an offensive drive or drop shot and, as we'll see later, to reach balls on defense that she could never hit with two hands. For most players, the grip between Continental and Eastern forehand Kim is using for this slice tends to produce a ton of spin and not much pace, which would be best suited for a drop shot.

Kim Clijsters Photo #5: 3/4 Open Stance Forehand

This photo captures how Kim delivers so much power and topspin to her extremely potent forehand. Her leg drive has lifted her off the ground, and the uncoiling of her upper body from her 3/4 open stance is evident in the twisting of her shirt. By reaching out for the ball as much as she does, Clijsters gets more leverage out of her arm. Kim's point of contact is perfect.

Kim Clijsters Photo #6:Square Stance Forehand

Kim demonstrates a square stance forehand, with her weight on her front foot and only the toe of her back foot on the ground. This stance is generally not as powerful as the more open stances, but it makes adjusting to a ball that's shorter than expected much easier, as you can simply step forward farther with your front foot without changing your essential alignment. Roughly a foot away from the point of contact, Kim's racquet is low enough to allow her to create topspin by brushing up the back of the ball.

Kim Clijsters Photo #7:Elbow Up, Racquet Down on Serve

Kim Clijsters demonstrates the elbow up, racquet down position that should precede the upward strike at the ball on all power and kick serves.

Kim Clijsters Photo #8: Full Extension at Serve Point of Contact

Clijsters demonstrates an outstanding point of contact for a power first serve. Kim's leg drive initiates the kinetic chain that generates her power, and it has lifted her off the ground, raising her point of contact. Her arm is fully extended, and she's leaning in just enough to benefit from her weight moving forward without losing height of contact or having to worry about the racquet starting to tilt downward. Kim doesn't appear to be seeing the ball get hit, but she drops her head much less than many other top players do.

To her opponents, Kim often seems willing--and more frustratingly, able--to do anything to reach the ball. This is her trademark split, in this case being used along with a one-handed backhand slice to retrieve a ball most players wouldn't have touched.

Feeling good about yourself and your life is certainly its own reward, but it can also make you play better tennis. In this photo, little Jada, Kim's daughter, is helping her mom celebrate her 2010 US Open title, as she had in 2009. Jada likely helped her mom win both of those titles too.
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