After 36-year-old Kim Clijsters announced her return to tennis in 2020, we look at other great sporting comebacks.
Clijsters, who turned professional in 1997, has stepped away from the sport twice, initially retiring in 2007 due to persistent injury troubles.
Following a two-year hiatus and the birth of her daughter, Clijsters returned to action in 2009, relying on wildcards to regain her ranking. The Belgian swiftly reclaimed the US Open title she had first won in 2005 by defeating Caroline Wozniacki in 2009.
Clijsters then successfully defended the title in 2010, before adding an Australian Open victory to her CV the following year. A second retirement was announced in 2012, this time owing to family commitments as Clijsters did not wish to continue to tour while her daughter started school.
After a seven-year hiatus and the birth of her two sons, Clijsters began training in early 2019 and has announced her return to the sport in 2020.
Clijsters is not the first superstar to make a sporting comeback…
Widely regarded as the NBA’s greatest player of all time, Jordan hung up his sneakers in 1993 to give minor league baseball a try. But he returned to the Chicago Bulls two years later to pick up where he left off. He led the Bulls to three straight titles between 1996 and 1998. His second comeback with the Washington Wizards in 2001 did not prove as successful. Jordan played his final NBA game on April 16, 2003.
Jockey Piggott announced his retirement in 1985 having ridden more than 4,000 winners. The 11-time champion jockey was jailed two years later for tax fraud, but returned to racing in breathtaking fashion in 1990 as he won the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Royal Academy aged 55. Piggott also rode Rodrigo de Triano to victory in the 2,000 Guineas in 1992.
Foreman became world heavyweight champion for the first time in 1973, stopping Joe Frazier in two rounds. After two successful title defences, Foreman lost to Muhammad Ali in the fight dubbed ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ a year later and failed to regain his belt before announcing his retirement in 1977. Fast forward to 1994 and Foreman, who had been back in the ring since 1987, became the oldest heavyweight champion in history as he floored Michael Moorer in the 10th round aged 45.
Seles became the youngest woman to reach the world No 1 ranking in 1991 and won eight Grand Slam singles titles before her 20th birthday. Yugoslavian-born Seles dominated the sport winning three out of four Grand Slam singles titles in 1992 with victories at the Australian, French and US Open. In April 1993, Seles was stabbed by a deranged male spectator while playing at a tournament in Hamburg. Although she recovered from her injuries, she would not play again for two years. She returned in 1995, and the following year she won her 10th and last major singles title with an emotional victory at the Australian Open.