Super mom Kim Clijsters scooped up her US Open champion's trophy in one arm and her 18-month-old daughter Jada in the other Sunday night, overjoyed by both treasures but still stunned at her title.
Clijsters made history with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Danish ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki in the women's final, taking her second career Grand Slam title just five weeks after returning from a layoff of more than two years.
"I can't believe this happened. It still seems so surreal that in my third tournament back I won my second Grand Slam," Clijsters said. "It's a great feeling to have, but it's confusing in a lot of ways as well.
"Everything went so quickly. But it means the world, and I'm just so glad that I'm able to share it with my husband and with our daughter, who of course is the greatest thing ever."
The 26-year-old Belgian retired from tennis in May, 2007, to marry and start a family, but getting into shape for an exhibition match at Wimbledon made former world number one Clijsters re-think staying away from the sport.
"The start of this year, that's when it came back, so 18 months ago, tennis wasn't even on my mind," Clijsters said. "I was just a new mom and just going through those experiences, which is a lot of fun.
"It's not like I thought, 'I'll never play tennis again.' I just never looked at it as an option."
After playing two tuneup events last month, she received a wildcard entry into the US Open and took advantage to the fullest.
The only scary thing about winning a Grand Slam five weeks into your comeback is coming up with an encore.
"I don't know how I'm going to top this, but it's a challenge," Clijsters said.
An inspiration to working moms everywhere, Clijsters became only the third mother to win a Grand Slam singles crown after Evonne Goolagong in 1980 at Wimbledon and Margaret Court at the 1973 US, French and Australian Opens.
"If I inspired them, great, but this is something that I, in my wildest dreams, could never imagine happening," Clijsters said. "So I kind of have to get used to the situation as well.
"I look forward to having that role a little bit maybe. It's something that as a woman who has a family and being an athlete, I think it's possible.
"But to win a Grand Slam now I think is obviously a big deal in the history of women's tennis, so I'm glad that I'm a part of that history."
It was Jada, a curly haired blonde camera magnet, who stole the show after the awards ceremony. She waved a finger in a No. 1 motion. She held the trophy, then pushed it away. She ran along the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The night before the final, Clijsters wasn't watching videotape of Wozniacki. She was watching "Ice Age" with Jada.
"We tried to plan her nap time a little bit later today so she could be here," Clijsters said. "It's the greatest feeling in the world being a mother. I can't wait to spend the next weeks with her and get back to our routine.
"I'm excited to go home and live the normal family life again."
Clijsters hit the winning forehand smash, then dropped to her knees, bent forward and began to cry. She ran into the stands to greet basketball-playing husband Brian Lynch with a kiss and other friends and family.
"It's great to be able to share it with my family," Clijsters said.
"I feel very lucky that I got this chance to be back here now and that I made that decision, because it's obviously been a good choice. But being a mother is obviously my first priority, and being a wife. I'm just very lucky that I'm able to combine both and that my family supports me in doing this."