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I was just reading that ASV might be coming back for the 2004 Olympics and just thought comebacks can go either way - really well or a tennis great losing their sparkle a bit. When you think of Martina Navratilova's comeback it is pretty amazing, winning 2 mixed Slams, finals of womens doubles in US Open and being in the top 10 at 46. But there has also been rather ill-advised comebacks like Tracy Austin in the 1990's. The game had obviously moved on since her peak and she was losing to mediocre players easily. Also I read somewhere Maria Bueno came back once and was kind of unrecognisable. I just wondered if any of the Blast regulars can remember any other ill-advised career comebacks and why was Maria so different when she came back? :)
 

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Good thread idea Racquel:)


With Maria Bueno it was age plus injuries. She actually made about 4 or 5 comebacks. A lot of it had to do with money. When tennis went open
in 1968 there was more money to be had and Maria was tempted I guess!
 

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I am amost positive the worst comeback of all time was Bjorn Borg in spring 1991, a full ten years after walking away from the game. Bjorn decided to comeback at age 36 with a wood racket and a blind, geriatric 'advisor' who guided him.

I was appalled!

Simply appalled!
 

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I was appalled he left his wonderful wife for some Swedish tart-then dumped the tart for a middle aged Italian singer who looked like Bela Lugosi in drag as a sort of female Dracula.

What an actress though. Drag-ula had to get her stomach pumped a few times.

Guess that's you get for hanging out with Euro-trash jet setters in Monte Carlo. Bjorn babes had a few too many snorts of cocaine.

Most disturbing.
 

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Great thread!! With Maria coming back in 1974-7 was all about money; she was bitter about missing the financial boat of pro tennis - and who could blame her? I remember seeing two of her matches at Wimbledon in 1977 when she was 37 (which actually doesn't seem anything like as old now as it did at the time!); she beat Janet Newberry, then the Italian Open chamion 1-6 8-6 8-6 before losing to Billie Jean King on Centre Court, and I still have newspaper clippings about that match, when it was generally acknowledge that she was a shadow of her former self, just showing glimpses of her old form. I think I read somewhere that even with her moderate success on the tours those years she made as much money as in her glory years - so in that respect her comeback was reasonably successful. Even today I rarely read anything about Maria Bueno now without there being references to her lack of financial success, and of course that's applicable to all pre-Open tennis stars but the timing of Maria's heyday makes it obviously more painful for her!

Many year later (in 1989) I recognised Maria Bueno in a post office in Battersea in South London (really!) and I approached her and we had a talk. I told her I'd obviously missed her Wimbledon-winning years but that I'd seen two of her Wimbledon matches in 1977 and I trotted out the score of the win over Newberry and I got the impression that she was pleased that her performance in the later years had stuck in my mind, which it had!!

With Tracy Austin I think the 1993-4 comeback was all about missing the glory, rather than the money. In her early-90s autobiography she boasted that she thought if she came back she could easily reach the Top 15, but the reality proved otherwise. She pulled off a couple of good wins (I remember she beat Gigi Fernandez and a Maleeva - Katerina?) but an Eastbourne humiliation to Kristine Radford was enough to shame her into hanging up her rackets for good!!!
 

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After Tracy's accident in 1989, I think it was a good effort on her part to make the comeback. She didn't come anywhere near to being a major threat but just coming back was a victory for her.

Unfortunate Maria had very bad luck. She had never planned to leave tennis when she first did (1969). That year, she began her season in Caracas, Venezuela and while there, her arm was hurting. She went to a local doctor but unfortunately, she was injected in the wrong part of her arm which messed it up permanently. Her arm never recovered. She came back in 1974, joining the Florida Flamingos in World TeamTennis but she was never the same.
 

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what about billie jean king didn't she retire a few times too?
 

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thank goodness steffi was so smart to trow her strips away :eek:
 

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Zummi said:
After Tracy's accident in 1989, I think it was a good effort on her part to make the comeback. She didn't come anywhere near to being a major threat but just coming back was a victory for her.

Unfortunate Maria had very bad luck. She had never planned to leave tennis when she first did (1969). That year, she began her season in Caracas, Venezuela and while there, her arm was hurting. She went to a local doctor but unfortunately, she was injected in the wrong part of her arm which messed it up permanently. Her arm never recovered. She came back in 1974, joining the Florida Flamingos in World TeamTennis but she was never the same.

Yes, and to her credit Maria even has a pro tour title to her name: she won the Japan Open in 1974....
 

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irma said:
what about billie jean king didn't she retire a few times too?
Yes, but her comebacks were always successful! Even her final one saw her reach the Wimbledon semi-finals at the age of 39!!!!
 

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I see. I know she beat nav at 36 when nav was 23;)
 

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Hi guys - Billie Jean's comebacks were amazing... She officially retired in 1975 after winning Wimbledon when she was 32..... she still played some doubles and World Team Tennis in 1976, but was called out of retirement to play in the Fed Cup for USA in Philadelphia and won all her matches incluing a straights set win over world number 2 Evonne Goolagong in the final - not bad for a retired player lacking match practice...

she officially came back in 1977 to average results at the start, but won 3 consecutive equivalent Tier 2 tournaments on consecutive weeks after the US Open and reached the Masters final to end the year at number 2. One of these 3 events was in Brazil - everyone seems to forget Brazil had a big tournament for one year only in 1977 - until bahia returned 2 years ago...

King then disapeared in spring 1978 not to re-surface until the grass court season in 1979 a full yea later and beat Navratillova 6-1,6-2 in her first event back... she only had mediocre results in 1979 and ended the year just inside the top 10...

Her last big swan-song was the winter circuit - The Avon Circuit in 1980 where she beat Martina 6-1,6-3 at age 36 the oldest to beat a Number One at the time... Martina would beat that when she beat Monica in Paris 93. She also very nearly took Martina out in the qaurters of Wimbledon in 1980 and after that she hardly played that year... she only played a few events in 1981, came back from retirement yet again in 1982 and reached the Wimbledon semi'sand one final time aged 39 in 1983...Not bad indeed....

Margaret Court was another who did well with comebacks... She offically retired to run a clothing boutique in 1967, but came back in 1968 and her best years 1969 and 1970 when she won the Grand Slam...

She had her first kid in 1971 and came back again in 1972 and won 3 of the Grand Slams in 1973... Pregnant again - she came back for 1975 season but by this time she was fading... still was top 5 though...

She retired again in 1976 as she was pregnant for the 3rd time - but she sadly had a mis-carriage... She came back one final time in 1977 and played a few indoor events to some success - reachjed a couple of finals.. then retired for one final time.. I;mnot sure if it was because of injury or she became pregnant again....
 

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Leila Meskhi. she took a couple of years off to have a baby and won something like 3 games total in the 4 matches off her comeback. She even lost 0 and 0 to Lenka Cenkova
:eek:
 

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Billie Jean King had Martina's number in the early going, and to this day, Navratilova says of King "she knew exactly what to do to pick my game apart, and she did it".

I wish they had played more:

1977-10-03 Atlanta Indoor Carpet QF Billie Jean King (USA) 6-4 6-1
1977-10-10 Phoenix Hardcourt SF Billie Jean King (USA) 7-6 4-6 6-4
1977-10-17 Sao Paulo Clay QF Billie Jean King (USA) 6-2 3-6 6-4
1977-11-21 Kobe and Tokyo Indoor Carpet F Billie Jean King (USA) 7-5 5-7 6-1
1978-01-16 Houston Indoor Carpet F Martina Navratilova (USA) 1-6 6-2 6-2
1978-02-27 Kansas City Indoor Carpet F Martina Navratilova (USA) 7-5 2-6 6-3
1978-06-19 Eastbourne Grass SF Martina Navratilova (USA) 6-4 6-2
1979-06-11 Chichester Grass QF Billie Jean King (USA) 6-1 6-2
1979-11-19 Brighton Indoor Carpet SF Martina Navratilova (USA) 7-5 0-6 7-6
1980-01-21 Chicago Indoor Carpet SF Martina Navratilova (USA) 7-6 3-6 6-1
1980-02-25 Houston Indoor Carpet F Billie Jean King (USA) 6-1 6-3
1980-03-17 New York Indoor Carpet RR Martina Navratilova (USA) 6-2 6-1
1980-03-24 LaCosta Indoor Carpet SF Martina Navratilova (USA) 4-6 7-6 6-0
1980-06-23 Wimbledon Grass QF Martina Navratilova (USA) 7-6 1-6 10-8
1981-03-02 Los Angeles Indoor Carpet QF Martina Navratilova (USA) 6-3 7-5
 

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Great thread Racquel..... I bet we can talk just as much more about the great comebacks on the women's tour!

I thought Austins comeback was OK. Sure it didn't have anywhere near the results of yesteryears, but I think she was back in it, just to experience the tour again. Chris went orgasmic after that Katerina Maleeva win saying: 'her mind is still her best weapon'.

Borg's takes the cake.

But with women, quite often the top girls were able to get back into atleast tournament competition.

Court, Cawley, Gildemeister, Smylie - after babies.

King - returned because she was sued by marilyn barnett and needed to pay her lawyers!

Dianne Balestrat's was noteworthy because she had to climb from the satelittes up, was given practically no wildcards.

It will be interesting if Hingis gets back on tour - to see how far she can climb back up.
 

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But you know, to be fair, even unsuccessful comebacks are not really remembered, are they? There's not an asterix by Bjorn Borg's fantastic record saying 'Do you remember that awful failed comeback attempt a couple of years later?'!! I mean, when Maria Bueno is talked about no-one says 'I remember her losing dismally to 16-year old Jo Durie at Surbiton (or was it Beckenham?) just before Wimbledon in 1977'! (Probably only Jo remembers that, apart from me!) No, people fondly remember her fantastic artistry, and the 4 US titles and 3 Wimbledon victories. So if the player wants to start playing again, who are we to criticize? A handful of disappointing defeats or even an under-achieving year or two can never detract from a successful career - or can they?
 
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