WTA

Clijsters, Court and the WTA Tour's best comebacks

By Sports Desk September 12, 2019

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.

 

Martina Navratilova

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.

Margaret Court

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.

 

Jennifer Capriati

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.

Kim Clijsters

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...

Related items

  • Kyle Edmund wins New York Open Kyle Edmund wins New York Open

    Kyle Edmund defeated Andreas Seppi in straight sets to capture the New York Open title on Sunday.

    Briton Edmund – contesting his first ATP Tour final since 2018 – claimed a 7-5 6-1 victory in New York.

    The eighth-seeded Edmund prevailed over Italian opponent Seppi after one hour, 21 minutes for his second ATP crown.

    Edmund, who reached the 2018 Australian Open semi-finals, used his serve to see off Seppi on the American hard courts at the 250 tournament.

    The South Africa-born Edmund won 31 of his 33 first serve points and did not face a break point throughout the match.

    Edmund broke three times en route to his first trophy since winning the 2018 European Open in Belgium.

  • Hazard bolsters Zidane's old guard but Madrid stumble Hazard bolsters Zidane's old guard but Madrid stumble

    Real Madrid's most memorable attacking moment during the first half of their title-race twisting 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo was Sergio Ramos launching into one of his driving runs in search of a goal, only to volley the ball into his own face when it arrived.

    This botched attack had a claim beyond slapstick, given Zinedine Zidane's LaLiga leaders failed to muster a single shot on target before the break.

    Indeed, there was nothing remotely as incisive from an forward line featuring Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale as the move Celta produced for their seventh-minute opener – Iago Aspas shifting smoothly into a pocket of space in front of a ramshackle Madrid defence and threading a perfect pass for Fedor Smolov to coolly slot home.

    Hazard was making his first appearance since suffering a fractured ankle in November and, shortly after Ramos' party piece, showed signs of starting to shift through the gears.

    In the 40th minute, Karim Benzema pulled out to the left channel and Hazard scampered around the outside, pulling the ball back from the byline for the on-rushing Bale to fire narrowly over.

    It was link-up play to cheer Zidane as he tries to get his returning attackers up to speed ahead of the Champions League showdown against Manchester City later this month.

    On this evidence, however, Hazard and Bale are playing for one spot. The ever-dependable Benzema is a guaranteed starter, fitness permitting, and Los Blancos missed the benched Vinicius Jr's dynamism for much of Sunday's contest.

    Having set themselves a low bar in the first-half, Madrid improved considerably during the second period and hit the front thanks to a couple of sure things.

    Toni Kroos' midfield scheming is not annotated with goals too frequently, but he dispatched Marcelo's pass to score for the sixth time against Celta. He has 14 LaLiga goals overall since joining Madrid from Bayern Munich in 2014.

    Ramos is, by comparison, somewhat more prolific from centre-back. A smart finish from an offside position showed his radar to be back in order following the earlier mishap and there was little doubt about the outcome when he stepped up for a 65th-minute penalty.

    Ruben Blanco erred badly when Benzema and Hazard repeated their first-half link, with the Celta goalkeeper darting from his ground to needlessly bring the Belgium star down.

    Blanco guessed correctly but Ramos' sprung from his staggered run-up to dispatch an unerring strike.

    Hazard made way for Vinicius in the 73rd minute and enjoyed a warm ovation from the Bernabeu faithful – the sort of reception that sadly only seems to exist in the past tense for Bale nowadays.

    As for the other grizzled survivors of Zidane's three consecutive Champions League final triumphs from 2016 through to 2018, they remain his dependables.

    They will be asked to go to the well once more the next time Madrid emerge at their famous home ground, faced with a formidable but flawed City in a competition they know like the back of their hand.

    It would be a brave person who backs against them but the sight of Celta producing a sting in the tail suggested the years could be taking a toll.

    Substitutes Denis Suarez and Santi Mina combined as Aspas and Smolov had before for the latter to score – the lines of communication between Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane in the backline again appearing unhelpfully clogged.

    The lead at the top of LaLiga from Barcelona was only a point at full-time, a situation roughly as comfortable as booting a football into your own face.

    Of course, Ramos tumbled theatrically in stoppage time to try and win another penalty and Madrid will strain and scrap for everything until the end of the season. With 46 goals from 24 LaLiga games, don't expect them to blow too many teams away either. The Galactico grind is on.

  • Ruud makes history with Argentina Open title Ruud makes history with Argentina Open title

    Casper Ruud became the first Norwegian to claim an ATP Tour title after winning the Argentina Open.

    Ruud made history with a comprehensive 6-1 6-4 victory over Portugal's Pedro Sousa in Sunday's final in Buenos Aires.

    The 21-year-old also became the youngest Argentina Open champion – surpassing 2004 winner Guillermo Coria (22).

    Ruud's win means he will become Norway's highest ranked male player ever – projected to climb to 34th – taking the record from his dad Christian, who reached 39th in the world in 1995.

    Playing on red clay at the ATP 250 tournament, Ruud was a class above as he won all nine of his services games without facing a break point.

    Ruud also broke three times in the one hour, 11-minute contest, including the first return game of the match to set the tone.

    Sousa hit back-to-back double faults in the opening game of the second set to gift Ruud the break, and the eighth seed never looked back en route to a maiden crown.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.