Martina Navratilova, who wrote the blurb about Clijsters' worthiness, explains:
Sure, it's easier to balance work and family when you're making a lot of money. But Kim has turned that balance into an art form. She has kept her feet on the ground and knows that her tennis skills do not make her a great person. Whenever there's an opportunity for players to do something charitable, she's the first to sign up. On the court, Kim doesn't play any mind games. She won't throw tantrums or call for bathroom breaks to throw off her opponent. Kim just gets on with it.
While I'm in full agreement with everything Martina says, I don't really understand how any of it makes Clijsters one of the most 100 influential people in the world. If not calling for bathroom breaks is influential, the dudes from the Flomax commercial should have been on the cover. Kim is a role model to working moms and a paragon of class on and off the court. Is she one of the most influential people in the world?
It's a silly question because it makes the mistake of taking an inherently ridiculous list seriously. The Time 100 is an excuse to sell copies by putting famous people on the cover and having their famous friends fawn over them inside the pages. How can you take seriously a list that features people whose "ideas spark dialogue and dissent and sometimes even revolution" and then includes Blake Lively and Justin Bieber?
Plus, didn't Clijsters get in hot water a few weeks ago for declaring somewhat callously that she wouldn't go to Japan this fall because of worries about radiation? She got a bad rap for that but still, it was uncouth, at best. Was Martina's paragraph already ghostwritten by then?
Serena Williams was on the list last year, which gives me the sense that Time wanted a female athlete and because it's not an Olympic year, the magazine had to go with Clijsters. If Caroline Wozniacki wins a Grand Slam this year, you can bet she'll be on the list in 2012. If that sounds cynical, I apologize. After having to slog through a section written by Jamie Oliver (on Michelle Obama), Scott Walker sucking up to Paul Ryan and Glenn Close write of Mia Wasikowska, "Mia, 21, is a sun, not a satellite," I think I'm entitled.
- Kim Clijsters
- Martina Navratilova