After retiring from his Wimbledon quarterfinal match, Novak Djokovic announced shortly afterward that he was going to end his 2017 campaign as he looks to recuperate from an elbow injury.
Some of his fellow all-time greats have been forced into or chosen extended layoffs, and appeared to pick right back up without missing a beat. Here are five of them:
Roger Federer, 2017
No one, perhaps not even Roger Federer, saw this coming. After shutting it down for the season after Wimbledon in 2016, Federer has returned with a vengeance in 2017, winning five titles (including two Grand Slams) to extend his men’s singles major record to 19.
Rafael Nadal, 2017
Not to be outdone, Federer’s longtime rival isn’t doing too shabby, either. Struggling with a wrist injury for most of 2016, Rafael Nadal ended his campaign after an early loss at the Shanghai Masters. Fast-forward to 2017: Nadal reached the Australian Open final and captured his tenth French Open title. He’s now back up to No. 2 in the world.
Serena Williams, 2007
Seeded or unseeded, ranked No. 1 or No. 81—it doesn’t matter, Serena Williams will always be a threat. In 2006, Williams ended her season after the US Open and didn’t return until the following year in Australia. Her performance had been inconsistent the past couple of years by that point, but after the Australian Open, any doubt was laid to rest as she became the first unseeded player to win the title in decades.
Monica Seles, 1995
One of the most heavily anticipated comebacks in the history of the sport, Monica Seles returned to the tour after more than two years away after being stabbed on court. In her first tournament back, Seles won the Canadian Open and a month later, reached the US Open final. She won her next Grand Slam, the 1996 Australian Open, for her first major title in three years.
Kim Clijsters, 2009
Retirement and motherhood appeared to work wonders for Kim Clijsters. After retiring from the game in 2007, the former world No. 1 decided to return to the tour for the 2009 summer hard-court season. In only her third tournament back, Clijsters won the US Open, beating both Williams sisters along the way and becoming the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong in 1980.
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