Tennis's Kim Clijsters May Sign With Olympic Games Sponsor, Her Agent Says

U.S. Open tennis champion Kim Clijsters may sign an agreement with a worldwide sponsor of the Olympic Games, her agent Bob Verbeeck said.

Clijsters, the highest earner on the women’s tour this season with more than $5 million in prize money, has seven sponsors. Her management is seeking a replacement for Thomas Cook Group Plc, after a one-year agreement with the tour operator ended in September.

“One of the options we are looking at now is a partnership that is linked to the Olympic Games and to one of the worldwide partners of the Games,” Verbeeck, who has represented Clijsters since 2001, said in an interview. “London 2012 is very important for Kim as an end goal for her career.”

A deal may be announced in the first quarter of 2011, said Verbeeck, who is founder and chief executive officer of Paal- Beringen, Belgium-based sports, media and entertainment company Golazo.

The International Olympic Committee has 11 worldwide top- tier sponsors, including consumer-goods company Procter & Gamble Co., McDonald’s Corp., Coca-Cola Co. and Visa Inc.

Since coming out of a two-year retirement in August last year -- during which she got married and had a baby girl -- Clijsters has won two U.S. Open championships and risen to No. 3 in the rankings of the WTA Tour. Last month, the 27-year-old Belgian beat top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark to win the season-ending WTA Championships in Doha for the third time in her career. Clijsters, a former world No. 1, wants to spend more time with her family after the Olympic tennis event at Wimbledon in 2012.

Endorsements

Clijsters’s endorsements include Adecco SA, the world’s biggest supplier of temporary workers; Italian sports brand Fila, racket manufacturer Babolat, watchmaker Citizen, banana seller Chiquita, Belgian cable operator Telenet Group Holding NV and the maker of the AA sports drink.

“Possibly as a result of the extended media coverage on my comeback as a mom, we get a lot more international endorsement requests,” Clijsters said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. She said she’s looking for sponsors who won’t have special requirements on her time.

Clijsters is also selective when it comes to the sort of products she endorses, and won’t promote unhealthy food, Verbeeck said. She’s turned down campaigns that might involve her daughter Jada, said Verbeeck, whose 19-year-old Golazo represents around 100 athletes, mostly in track and field.

“She is a role model for working women between the ages of 25 and 45,” said Verbeeck, a former Belgian Olympic track athlete.

Golazo staged the Best of Belgium in July, an exhibition between 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and Clijsters that was played in front 35,000 spectators, the most ever for a tennis match.

It also organizes sports events, including the Tour of Flanders, Belgium’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup tennis matches as well as marathons in Antwerp, Brussels, and Kuala Lumpur.

Clijsters, who first met Verbeeck through her father, the late Belgian soccer player Lei Clijsters, may work for Golazo in the future on some of its events or as an adviser to its athletes.

“Kim would like to stay involved with sports after her tennis career is over,” Verbeeck said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh on the London sports desk at drossingh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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