Last week, former world No. 1 Kim Clijsters announced her intentions to return to action on the WTA Tour in 2020. Already an inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the 36-year-old mother of three is eager to test herself further in competition. She’s not the only player ready to hit the comeback trail, either, as former world No. 12 Tatiana Golovin also announced a return is imminent.
As those two prepare for a return, here’s a look at five other comebacks from some of the all-time greats.
Sometimes, a comeback can take place in two acts. At least that’s how International Tennis Hall of Famer Hingis approached it. With injuries forcing her out of the game when she was only 22, she returned after nearly three years away to finish 2006 in the Top 10 in singles. The return was short-lived, though, as a suspension coincided with a second retirement. When she was eligible to play on the tour again, she focused on doubles, winning multiple majors in the women’s and mixed disciplines. Hingis also earned a spot at the top of the women’s doubles rankings before retiring for a third time in 2017.
After two decades of excellence, the Czech-born American announced her retirement at the end of 1994. While it had been several years since she won a Grand Slam singles title, she was still capable of outstanding tennis, evidenced by the fact that she reached the Wimbledon final that summer. Navratilova returned to the court in 2000, primarily focusing on doubles, and in one of the most impressive feats of her legendary career, she captured the US Open mixed doubles title in 2006 with Bob Bryan—a month before turning 50.
The comeback trail is something the Belgian has quite a bit of experience with. In the summer of 2009, Clijsters made it back to the WTA tour after stepping away to build a family. She hit the ground running, posting multiple wins over Top-10 players in her first two events, which set the stage for the US Open. There, Clijsters went on to claim the top prize, defeating five seeded players on her way to the title.
Clijsters’ countrywoman also stepped away from the game while playing some of her best tennis: In fact, the seven-time Grand Slam winner was ranked No. 1 when she decided to call it quits. Inspired by Clijsters’ comeback in 2009, Henin decided to embark upon one of her own, returning to the court in 2010. Unranked at that year’s Australian Open, she made it all the way to the championship match before losing to Serena Williams.
Having completed the career Grand Slam in women’s singles, doubles and mixed, Court walked away from the game briefly in 1966. Returning to tennis in 1967, she won three of the four majors in singles two years later, then in 1970, the Australian had the best season of her storied career when she became only the second woman to complete the calendar-year Grand Slam.
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