Kim Clijsters has announced plans for a remarkable return to the WTA Tour after a seven-year absence.
The former world number one – a four-time major champion – has not played since the 2012 US Open, having called time on her career for a second time with 41 singles titles.
But Clijsters, 36, is now aiming to return in 2020, potentially competing again with Serena and Venus Williams – the only active players who can match her tally of Tour honours.
Inspired by the Belgian’s decision, we look at some other notable comebacks in women’s tennis.
While Navratilova never again hit the heights that saw her claim 18 singles majors before her initial retirement, her 2000 return – 27 years on from her Tour debut – was undoubtedly a success.
Navratilova would not play singles at a grand slam until 2004 – winning in the first round at Wimbledon aged 47 – but spent the second part of her career mopping up numerous doubles prizes, finally bowing out in 2006 having won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at all four majors for a total of 59 championships. Not bad.
— WTA (@WTA) January 1, 2019
The only player with more grand slam titles across all disciplines than Navratilova is Court, although that would not have been the case had she stayed retired after Wimbledon in 1966, then playing as Margaret Smith.
She married Barry Court the following year, took his name on her return to tennis in 1968 and then set about achieving complete domination again in the new Open Era. She added 11 more majors, winning the Grand Slam in 1970, and finished on a still unmatched 24, retiring in 1977 due to the pregnancy with her fourth child.
Capriati’s lay-off from tennis was only brief following the 1993 US Open as she struggled with the pressure of the sport, yet she had a long, long route back to the top, having been a child star and won the Olympics in 1992.
Her hard work paid off eventually, though, and the American won the Australian Open and French Open titles in 2001 and became world number one, defending her Melbourne title the following year. Having finally got close to fulfilling her immense potential, Capriati’s final retirement came following an injury-plagued 2004 season.
— Jennifer Capriati (@JenCapriati) October 26, 2018
Clijsters need look no further than the mirror for inspiration when she steps back out onto the court next year, having already completed one hugely successful return.
She retired aged just 23 in 2007, citing a desire for “health and private happiness”, but was back two years later. Clijsters made her grand slam singles comeback at the US Open and won her second title, before defending her crown for a third the following year. She backed that up at the 2011 Australian Open before apparently calling it quits for good the next year.
But now she is back again…