10 Athletes Who Successfully Came Back From Retirement

Tom Brady isn’t the only athlete to decide retirement wasn’t for him.

Seven-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Tom Brady ended his brief retirement on Sunday when he announced he would be returning for a 23rd season in the National Football League (NFL).

Following are 10 sporting greats who enjoyed success after coming out of retirement:

MICHAEL JORDAN (BASKETBALL)

Basketball great Jordan shocked the sport when he announced his first retirement at the age of 30, months after winning his third NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls in 1993.

Jordan played some minor league baseball before making his return to the NBA in 1995, going on to win three more championships with the Bulls.

GEORGE FOREMAN (BOXING)

Foreman became the unified heavyweight champion of the world with a win over Joe Frazier in 1973 but retired from the sport four years later following a loss to Jimmy Young.

The American made his return to the ring a decade later, winning a string of fights before knocking out Michael Moorer to claim the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles at the age of 45.

KIM CLIJSTERS (TENNIS)

Clijsters won the U.S. Open in 2005 before her first retirement two years later. She returned to the sport in 2009 and won a second major title in New York as an unseeded wild card.

The Belgian defended her U.S. Open crown in 2010 and picked up the last of her four major titles at the Australian Open in 2011 before retiring again in 2012. She made her second comeback in early 2020.

MICHAEL PHELPS (SWIMMING)

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 23 gold medals, announced his retirement following the 2012 London Olympics.

The American returned to the pool two years later and qualified for 2016 Rio Olympics, where he won five more gold medals.

ROGER CLEMENS (BASEBALL)

Clemens first retired at the age of 41 in 2003 after winning six Cy Young awards with three American League ballclubs.

He returned to the sport a year later and won a record seventh Cy Young Award, as the top pitcher in the National League, this time with the Houston Astros.

MARIO LEMIEUX (ICE HOCKEY)

Lemieux's career was blighted by health problems, including a battle with cancer, and he twice retired only to resume a highly successful career with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Canadian spent three years out of the game between 1997 and 2000, during which he was installed in the Hall of Fame, but returned to the ice for another six years before enjoying even more success as owner of the Penguins.

BRETT FAVRE (AMERICAN FOOTBALL)

Favre established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time during a 16-season spell with the Green Bay Packers, winning a Super Bowl title in 1997.

In 2008, Favre retired for the first time, but a few months later he signed with the New York Jets. He retired again after one season with the Jets but made another comeback and enjoyed a stellar season with the Minnesota Vikings.

DARA TORRES (SWIMMING)

Torres, who became the first U.S. swimmer to compete in five Olympics, twice come out of retirement to add to her medal collection.

The 12-times Olympic medallist first quit the sport after the 1992 Barcelona Games and then came back to take five medals in Sydney in 2000 before again retiring to start a family.

She then returned for a second time at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, winning three silver medals at the age of 41.

NIKI LAUDA (MOTOR RACING)

Lauda's greatest comeback came after suffering horrific burns in a near-fatal crash at the Nuerburgring in 1976. He was soon back in his Ferrari and went on to claim his second Formula One title the following year.

The Austrian retired in 1979 but was back on the track in 1982 and won the 1984 world title for McLaren.

LIONEL MESSI (SOCCER)

After Argentina lost to Chile on penalties in the 2016 Copa America final, Messi announced his retirement from international football.

He changed his mind a few weeks later and helped drag an inconsistent Argentina to the World Cup finals in 2018, before winning the Copa America in 2021 to claim his first major international title.

(Compiled by Aadi Nair in BengaluruEditing by Shri Navaratnam)

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