Return of the dragon

Here are some prominent sportspersons who came back after announcing their retirement:

Floyd Mayweather Jr.: After a brief retirement in May 2007, Mayweather returned to fight Ricky Hatton later in the year. The American dominated the fight billed as ‘Undefeated’ and knocked out the Mancunian in the 10th round at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas watched by stars such as Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Zinedine Zidane: The French playmaker retired from international football after his country was knocked out by Greece in the Euro 2004 quarter-finals. He announced his comeback in August 2005 and was installed as captain. Took his team to the 2006 World Cup final against Italy where he converted a penalty but was sent off for head-butting Marco Materazzi.

George Foreman: Announced a return to the ring in 1987, aged 38, after 10 years away, stating his primary motive was to raise money to fund a youth centre. He became the oldest heavyweight boxing champion in 1994 when he knocked out Michael Moorer to reclaim the title he had held 20 years earlier.

Martina Hingis: Just 22 and a five-time Grand Slam winner when she announced her retirement in 2003, Hingis returned to tennis in 2005 and lost in the first round of a minor tournament, after which she said a full-fledged comeback was not on the cards. She resurfaced a few months later and figured in two major quarterfinals, also testing positive for cocaine at Wimbledon in 2007, the year of her final retirement.

Muhammad Ali: Returned in 1980 to face reigning champion Larry Holmes in an attempt to win an unprecedented fourth heavyweight title. Cornerman Angelo Dundee refused to let Ali come out for the 11th round and the fight was Ali’s only loss by anything other than a decision. The Greatest’s final spar was a loss by unanimous decision to challenger Trevor Berbick in 1981.

Kim Clijsters: Retired in 2007, married American basketball player Brian Lynch and gave birth to a daughter in 2008. She decided to stage a comeback in 2009, winning her first major, the U.S. Open, where she was given a wildcard. Clijsters was the first wildcard winner in New York and the first mother to win a Grand Slam since Evonne Goollagong Cawley won Wimbledon in 1980.

Bjorn Borg: The enigmatic Swede lost his last Grand Slam final to John McEnroe at the 1981 US Open, not staying back for the post-match ceremony. Announced his retirement in January 1983 at age 26 and went on to face personal and economic crises. His 1991 comeback was a joke attempted with a wooden racket in an era dominated by graphite-swinging monsters. Borg lost all 12 matches on his return and then fled to the veteran’s tour, this time equipped with a modern racket.

Colin Cowdrey: Called out of retirement at 42 to fortify England against Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee in the 1974-75 Ashes, the right-hand bat greeted Thomson with courtesy at the wicket in the second Test, “I don’t believe we’ve met. My name’s Cowdrey.” Though he did not dazzle with the bat, Cowdrey scored 165 runs in nine innings, with 41 as his highest.

Lance Armstrong: What could a man who cheated cancer to win the Tour De France a record seven times from 1999 to 2005 possibly have left to prove? After retiring in 2005, Armstrong returned to “raise awareness of the global cancer burden”, finishing third overall in the 2009 Tour de France.

Dara Torres: The American swimmer returned to the pool when she was 41 and won silvers in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in 50m freestyle, 4×100 medley relay, and 4×100 freestyle relay events, adding these to the bushel of gold she had won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Torres takes it as a compliment when people ask her if she is on performance enhancing drugs.