Sports

The Notable Comebacks at the Australian Open

A comeback provides no guarantee of success, but few sports provide more comebacks than professional tennis.

They are arriving wave after wave, particularly in the women’s game, where returning to action after maternity has become more common.

After the WTA stars Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki came back last season, the trend is continuing in 2024, with Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber, both former No. 1 players and multiple major champions.

Both are new mothers who have been out of the game for more than a year and both will be in the draw as the 2024 season begins in earnest on Sunday with the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, which Kerber won in 2016 and Osaka in 2019 and 2021.

“I’m so happy to see it,” said Kim Clijsters, the former world No. 1 from Belgium who made one of the most successful post-motherhood comebacks, winning the 2009 United States Open as a wild card. “I know when I started, some of the rules that are in place now were not in place. I know that Serena [Williams] definitely changed a lot of that: the different guidelines which just makes it easier for players to not feel the pressure, the pressure that female athletes feel to postpone a pregnancy. They might feel ready for it and want to do it, but because of the career and sponsors, they might keep postponing it.”

Angelique Kerber is also a new mother and a former No. 1 player. She won the Australian Open in 2016.Credit…Graham Denholm/Getty Images

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