Don’t mess with Kim Clijsters.
That’s the lesson one fan learned when he encouraged the tennis star to deliver a “body serve” to her opponents, Conchita Martinez and Andrea Jaeger, during a doubles game on Friday at Wimbledon. Clijsters had just asked her teammate, Rennae Stubbs, whether she should serve wide or down the middle when a front-row fan offered his own opinion.
“You said ‘body?’” Clijsters asked, a mix of anger and amusement on her face. “Why don’t you go there?”
And then, in that moment, the seriousness of the match vanished.
Clijsters and Stubbs could have been mad, but instead, they laughed. Martinez and Jaeger joined in on the fun and offered to let the man step in on their team. They handed him a racket and motioned for him to join the game.
But there was one problem.
Wimbledon requires all players on the court to wear all-white outfits, and this man, in his green top and blue shorts, violated that rule.
But Clijsters had an answer. Smiling to herself, she walked over to her tennis bag and pulled out a white skirt and a white quarter zip jacket. She handed the clothing to the unexpected man while the announcers warned against the idea.
“This is not going to work, Kim, this isn’t going to work,” the announcer said, concerned about the reality of the man fitting the skirt over his legs. “They’re not going to get over the knees.”
The man, however, ignored the announcers and played along, yanking the skirt up to its appropriate place. He smiled and accepted the racket. Clijsters, meanwhile, struggled to recover from her laughter. She fell backward on the court, still laughing, and attempted to regain her composure so she could serve to the fan.
She took the ball back to her side of the court and slammed a serve right to the fan who had suddenly become a participant in one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world. The man returned the shot, but on his second volley, he hit the ball into the net.
This fan could have retired back to the stands after that first missed shot, but he was still enjoying his time in the spotlight. “One more,” he gestured to the camera, holding up his index finger. Clijsters served again. The poor fan missed the second return. His run was done, but he wasn’t going to leave the court without thanking the players who brought him fame. The four players hugged the man, took photos with him, and then let him back to his seat.
— Tennisplaza België (@tennisplazabenl) July 14, 2017
The whole spectacle brought humor and sportsmanship into the match, and tennis fans watching the match tweeted out their support of the moment, praising the players for their class and entertainment:
Had the best laugh today,all the family watching one of the most entertaining matches ever!
— Michelle Bird (@birdylass) July 14, 2017
— Julie Cozze-Young (@CozzeJ) July 14, 2017
— keith martin (@keithyboy) July 14, 2017