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The greatest comeback? Abidal, Ali and others to rival Tiger

15 April 2019 15:00

"The greatest comeback story in sports." That was how Stephen Curry described Tiger Woods' incredible triumph at the Masters on Sunday.

Woods' time as golf's premier star looked to be over as his form and fitness deserted him in recent years, with a back injury threatening to end his career.

However, after returning to contention last season, the 43-year-old claimed his 15th major title and fifth green jacket with a superb display at Augusta.

Before following Curry's lead and pronouncing this achievement the greatest ever, though, we highlight some other sporting comebacks to rival Tiger's…

 

PETRA KVITOVA

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was one of the best tennis players in the world when she was the victim of a knife attack in December 2016, suffering a career-threatening injury to her playing left hand.

She was incredibly back in action for the 2017 French Open and then made the quarter-finals of the US Open.

Kvitova was not done there either, reaching the 2019 Australian Open final and climbing to number three in the WTA rankings. She could yet follow Woods in securing an emotional major win.

ERIC ABIDAL

Few comebacks have been as spectacularly swift as that of Eric Abidal, who was diagnosed with a tumour in his liver in March 2011 and lifted the Champions League trophy two months later.

The Barcelona defender's problems were not entirely resolved, though, and he required a liver transplant the following year that led to a lengthier lay-off.

Yet Abidal still managed to return to win LaLiga in 2012-13 and continue his playing career until 2014. He has since become Barca's technical secretary.

 

NIKI LAUDA

Niki Lauda was the reigning Formula One champion and well on course for a second straight title in 1976 when he crashed at the Nurburgring Grand Prix, with his car engulfed in flames.

Part of Lauda's ear was burnt off and his vision was impaired, but he was back in action six weeks later for the Italian Grand Prix.

The title escaped the recovering Lauda by just a point in 1976, yet he was back on top the following year and claimed the drivers' championship again in 1984 to cap a remarkable career.

MUHAMMAD ALI

Muhammad Ali went three years without a professional fight in the middle of his career.

Ali was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000 because of his stance on the Vietnam War. He remained free while he appealed, but his boxing licence was revoked.

The American returned to action in 1970 and, although he lost to Joe Frazier in a title fight the following year and sustained a broken jaw against Ken Norton in 1973, Ali was heavyweight champion again when he defeated George Foreman in 1974, aged 32.

 

MICHAEL JORDAN

Michael Jordan did comebacks like few others.

Jordan quit the Chicago Bulls in 1993 after three straight championships to try his hand at baseball, fulfilling his late father's dream that his son might make it in two sports.

That stint in the minor leagues did not quite work out, though, and Jordan was back in the NBA in 1996 and incredibly won three consecutive titles once more with the Bulls. A second return from retirement with the Washington Wizards did not quite go to plan.

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