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Kimiko has her man to thank

sports Updated: May 27, 2010 01:08 IST
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Japanese veteran Kimiko Date Krumm credited her husband, German racing driving Michael Krumm, after a sensational first-round win over ninth seed Dinara Safina at the French Open.

Date Krumm, who will turn 40 in September, became the oldest Roland Garros winner since Virginia Wade after her 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory on Tuesday -- 21 years after she made her first appearance at the event.

The former world number four, a three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, retired from tennis in 1996 and spent 12 years in the sporting wilderness before returning in 2008.

Asked what had prompted her comeback at the post-match press conference, she pointed to her husband sitting opposite and beamed: "Because of him."

The pair married in 2001, five years after Date Krumm's tennis career had ended, but she revealed that her husband encouraged her to return to the sport due to her passion for keeping fit.

"He's a racing driver, so he loved sports and tennis," said Date Krumm, who made her Roland Garros bow in 1989, before 26 members of the women's draw at the current event had even been born.

"He always asked me: 'Why don't you play tennis one more time, just for fun?' He wanted to see me. When I met him I was already retired, so he could only watch me on TV, not for real."

She ended her tennis exile in May 2008 and won her eighth WTA title at Seoul in 2009. She also revealed that in her time away from tennis she kept as fit as possible, even running the London Marathon in 2004.