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Tore his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals and, just as he was set to come back, suffered a long-term Achilles tendon injury last year. Among the best pure shooters to have played the game and an exceptional defender, Thompson was integral to the Golden State Warriors’ dominance in 2015-19.
A regular in the Australian test top order between 2015 and 2019, Khawaja has been in test match wilderness over the past two and a-half years. Returned in place of Travis Head for the most recent Ashes test, posting centuries in both innings.
Bailey (nee George) became one of New Zealand’s greatest midcourters through the 2000s. Wound up her elite netball career in 2012, answered an SOS in 2014, and seemed well past her top-level playing days by the time she was an assistant coach with the Northern Stars. It seemed like a desperation move when she was called in as an emergency replacement, as a 43-year-old, in 2019. Only, it turned out she was still pretty good. She started as the team made the playoffs, shocked the Southern Steel and progressed to the ANZ Premiership final.
Debuted for the Black Caps against Australia as a 19-year-old in 1993. Could have been set to become one of New Zealand’s great all-rounders, but turned his attention to rugby and became an all-time great outside back. Returned to cricket following his retirement from rugby in 2002, making his way back into the Black Caps in 2005 after a 12-year hiatus — which included playing in the first twenty20 international.
One of the most fearsome punchers in boxing history, Foreman forged a reputation as one of the sport’s greatest heavyweights during the 1970s. He retired in 1977, becoming a born-again Christian following a near-death experience after a loss to Jimmy Young. A decade later, he returned to the ring as a 38-year-old. In 1994, as a 45-year-old, he stunned the world by beating Michael Moorer — reclaiming the heavyweight title he had lost 20 years earlier. Retired with a 76-5 record in 1997.
The American sprinter was the fastest man on the planet and the reigning Olympic 100m champion when he received a four-year drug ban in 2006. Returned in 2010, as a 28-year-old, winning bronze and silver medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics respectively. In 2017, he finally toppled Usain Bolt in the 100m final to regain the world title he last won in 2005. Two years later, he won silver at the 2019 championships, before injury derailed his campaign to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Dominated women’s tennis throughout the early 1990s, before being stabbed mid-match by a fan obsessed with rival Steffi Graf in Hamburg in 1993. Emerged after a two-year hiatus in 1995 and won the Australian Open the following January. She was unable to consistently display her best form after her comeback, though, and it was the only grand slam she added to her pre-stabbing total. Continued to play professionally until 2003, although did not officially retire until 2008.
A regular in the England test team throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Cowdrey had been long gone from the international scene by the 1974-75 summer. But as England was tormented by the pace and aggression of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson in the Ashes, the tourists recalled the 41-year-old to offer resistance.
Ali was the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world when he refused to be drafted into the United States military in 1967. He subsequently had his boxing licence revoked in every state, leaving him unable to fight for three years. Came back in 1970 and while he lost his first title shot — to Joe Frazier in the "Fight of the Century" — he went on to reclaim the world title in 1974. Held the belts until 1978 and had his last fight in 1981.
Johnson was probably the best player in the NBA when he revealed he had tested positive for HIV in 1991 and would retire from basketball immediately. It was one of the biggest bombshell moments in sports history. Johnson returned to the basketball court for both that season’s All Star game and the 1992 Olympics, before playing 32 games for the Los Angeles in 1995-96. More significantly, he became an influential figure in the fight against HIV/Aids. He remains alive and a popular figure 30 years later.