Martina Hingis Miami

Tennis stars who returned from retirement

The year has been a big one for retirements in the game of tennis. Roger Federer announced that he would be hanging up his racquet, and Serena Williams announced that she was getting bored, prompting speculation a return to the court was imminent. However, should she return, she won’t be the first to make a comeback.

Several tennis stars have made a comeback to the sport over the years. Some have been refreshed after the break, returning better than ever. Others were less successful, struggling to find their drive and desire for the game. Below, we give our list of must-know tennis stars who returned from retirement.

Bjorn Borg

Bjorn Borg was the tennis GOAT in the seventies. The Swedish player managed to become the first person to win 11 Grand Slam singles titles. This included 6 consecutive Wimbledon singles and four French Opens. He is not only considered a tennis legend but ranks as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time.

Part of his ability to return was that Borg retired early at the age of 26. 1982 saw him play just one singles tournament, and despite pleas from John McEnroe telling him not to retire, he did. Suffering burnout, he desperately needed to wind back and take some respite.

His comeback arrived in 1991 on the professional Tennis Circuit Tour. Reverting to an old wooden racquet instead of the graphite ones he had been playing with, he lost his first match in two sets. Borg then failed to win a single set in the rest of his proceeding nine games. On the tour, he did manage to improve, mainly as he switched back to modern racquets. However, he remained defeated in every game and fully retired in 1993.

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis was one of the greatest tennis players of the modern era. Hailing from Switzerland, she was the first person from the country to gain a major title and number one rank. In 1996 at the age of 15, she started her career by becoming the youngest Grand Slam champion of all time when she won the doubles title. She also won her first singles title the same year, along with reaching a spot in the semi-finals of the US Open and quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Obvious parallels were made in the media between Emma Raducanu and Martina Hingis, as the former achieved success so early and learned from a regime of singles and doubles play. While Hingis thrived on the pressure, Raducanu has seen it impact her performance and seems to need more time to mature. She has however done extremely well in the US, where she made tennis history with her US Open win. Despite her dips in form for other events, she has remained at fairly favorable odds with most national and state bookmakers, including Ohio sportsbooks. At around +2000 to win, some would say that the US sees an awful lot of Hingis in Raducanu, including her ability to pick up the form when needed.

Hingis’s determination was apparent as she did this, retiring not once, but twice. The first time was due to a drop in form followed by recurring ankle problems which required surgery. She announced her retirement in 2003, saying she wanted to concentrate on horse riding. She would return by 2005 playing exhibition matches and slowly working her way back to the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

The second retirement came after a failed drugs test, which saw her banned for two years. Since then, she has had on-and-off periods, combining returns to tennis on multiple occasions with stints on Celebrity Game Shows. Her real final last game was in 2017 at the WTA finals in Singapore.

Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova is of both Czech and American origin, bringing pride to both countries as one of the greatest players of all time. She was a force to be reckoned with in the seventies and eighties, accumulating a string of accolades. These included being the world number one for 332 weeks, 237 weeks in doubles, winning Wimbledon nine times and holding the longest winning streak of 74 straight matches.

Her first retirement was in 1994 at the age of 37. caused by losses in the Wimbledon final and the WTA Tour Championships. However, she shocked the world by announcing her return in 2000. For this, her gaze was firmly on doubles competition with only the occasional singles event. However, she did do extremely well winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon in doubles. As a singles player, she became the oldest woman at 47 to win a single match in the open era.

Margaret Court

A former no 1 ranked tennis player, Margaret Court is now famous for her work as a Christian minister. However, during the sixties, she was the greatest female player on the planet and is still considered by many to hold that accolade today. Her career saw her win seven consecutive Australian Opens, starting when she was just 17 and a career Grand Slam at the age of 21.
Courts retirement came at the young age of 24. She left the sport to get married and have children. However, the retirement was short-lived and by 1967 she had returned in style, claiming 11 singles titles and 20 doubles and mixed titles. Towards the end of her career, she even started taking on exhibition matches with male competitors, though some believed she did not take them seriously enough. Her real retirement would come with her fourth pregnancy in 1977.

Unlike many other sports that rely on being signed to a team, coming back from tennis retirement is a personal decision and easier to do. This is exciting as it means that any great player could quickly make a comeback.

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.