The path to the tennis court after career-threatening setbacks can often be a long one.
It’s one Petra Kvitova, this year’s Australian Open finalist, had to travel recently after being the victim of a home invasion, and it’s also a trek that Jack Sock and Andy Murray—both working their way back from injury layoffs—will resume at the ATP 500-level event in Washington, DC.
As Sock and Murray try to work their way back in the form, here’s a look at five players they could look to emulate.
As much as she’s dominated the game for the bulk of her career, Williams has had to work her way back to the top on numerous occasions. Her latest feat only added to her status as an icon that’s transcended the sport: In 2018, Williams reached two Grand Slam finals—at Wimbledon and the US Open—shortly after taking time away from the game to become a mother for the first time.
After winning four straight Grand Slams from 2015 to 2016, Djokovic’s run came to an end in the third round at Wimbledon, which seemingly kicked off a streak of misfortune for the Serb. Elbow surgery and issues in his camp around coaching led to the cracks in the armor turning into fissures. Before Wimbledon last year, there were signs of a turnaround as he reached the Queen’s Club final. He went on to win Wimbledon and the US Open to finish the year on top of the rankings, and has solidified his hold at No. 1 this year.
Two years after reaching the top spot in the men’s standings for the first time, Andre Agassi was near rock-bottom by late 1997, with his ranking in the triple digits. Deciding to start over, Agassi hit the Challenger circuit at the end of the year and after some success there, entered 1998 eager to work his way back. After failing to advance to a final in ’97, the American reached eight in ’98, winning four of them. A year later, Agassi won the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam, made the final of Wimbledon and captured the US Open to finish the year at No. 1.
Juan Martin del Potro
There aren’t many players who’ve been forced to display such a high level of resilience as the Argentine. Del Potro has been through a series of starts and stops this decade, with multiple wrist injuries slowing his progress. In 2018, one of the best campaigns of his career, del Potro won his first Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells and closed out the Grand Slam season with a run to the Wimbledon final. He’s back on the sidelines this year with a fluke knee injury, but if there’s any player who knows how to come back, it’s him.
On the verge of rewriting the record books, Seles was sidelined by a vicious on-court attack in 1993 that left her scarred both physically and mentally. It took her more than two years to come back, but when she did, she immediately returned to her winning ways by taking the title at the Canadian Open. She soon followed that up with a run to the 1995 US Open final, and a few months later, won her first Grand Slam title in three years at the Australian Open.
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