Wimbledon 2006 Biography: Martina Hingis

You know, I’ll be the first person to admit that I’ve had several problems with some of the moronic statements that Martina Hingis has issued throughout her accomplished career. However, I must add that it certainly is good to see Hingis back – and playing tennis near the level that she used to display on a regular basis before injuries forced her into retirement at the grand old age of 22.

Hingis, the winner of five Grand Slam singles titles (three Australian Open, one Wimbledon, and one US Open) and nine Grand Slam women’s doubles titles set a series of “youngest-ever” records before ligament injuries in both of her ankles forced her retirement.

On November 29, 2005, after several surgeries and long recuperations, the 25-year-old Hingis announced that she would return to the WTA tour, starting her professional comeback at a low-key tournament in Australia on January 2006. Six months into her comeback, Hingis has climbed to the number 15 spot in the world rankings.

When Hingis made her professional debut in October 1994, two weeks after her 14th birthday. In 1995, she became the youngest player to win a match at a Grand Slam tournament when she advanced to the second round at the Australian Open. Although lacked the outright power of many of her stronger opponents, Hingis compensated for this with precise groundstrokes, outstanding shot selection, and an uncanny sense for anticipating where her opponent would be hitting the next shot.

Hingis eventually went on to become youngest Grand Slam singles champion in the 20th century by winning the 1997 Australian Open. The year before, Hingis became the youngest Wimbledon champion when she teamed with Helena SukovÃ?¡ to win the women’s doubles title at age 15 years and 9 months.

In March, of ’97, she became the youngest-ever player to attain the World No. 1 ranking. And in July, she became the youngest singles champion at Wimbledon since Lottie Dod in 1887.

Hingis also went on to win the US Open title that same year by triumphing over another up-and-coming star, Venus Williams, in the final. The only Grand Slam singles title she failed to win that year was the French Open, where she lost in the final to Iva Majoli.

In 1998, Hingis won all four of the Grand Slam women’s doubles titles [the Australian Open with Mirjana Lucic, and the other three events with Jana NovotnÃ?¡), and she became only the third woman to simultaneously hold the No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles. She also retained her Australian Open singles title by beating Conchita MartÃ?­nez in straight sets in the final, and lost in the final of the US Open to Lindsay Davenport, which ended an 80-week stretch Hingis’ had enjoyed as the No. 1 singles player in October 1998,

1999 saw Hingis win her third successive Australian Open singles crown as well as the doubles title (with teammate Anna Kournikova). She then reached the French Open final and was three points away from victory in the second set against Steffi Graf, but ended up losing 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. During the match, Hingis had infuriated an already partisan crowd by arguing with the umpire over several line calls (crossing the net in one instance), taking a bathroom break early in the final set, and twice delivering a rare underhand serve on match point. In tears after the match, Hingis was comforted by her mother as she returned to the court for the trophy ceremony.

Hingis’ three-year stranglehold on the Australian Open singles title came to an end in 2000 when she lost in the final to Lindsay Davenport 6-1, 7-5. Though she won no Grand Slams that year, she held on to the No. 1 ranking following nine tournament wins including the Tour Championships.

Hingis reached her fifth consecutive Australian Open final in 2001, where she lost to Jennifer Capriati 6-4, 6-3. Right before the French Open, Hingis underwent surgery on her right ankle in October 2001. Hingis won the Australian Open doubles final at the start of 2002 (again teaming with Kournikova) and reached a sixth straight Australian Open final in singles, again facing Capriati. But having led by a set and 4-0 (and even having a few match points), Hingis went on to lose 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.

In May 2002, Hingis needed another ankle ligament operation and continued to struggle with injuries and was never able to recapture her best form. Her doctors thought that she was able to play, and some believed that her losses were more a result of the new power game (as played by Davenport, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, etc.) passing her by than any debilitating physical ailments.

In 2003, at the age of 22, Hingis announced her retirement from tennis after losing her battle with these severe ankle problems and dwindling results. During her often combustible tennis career, Hingis had won 40 singles titles and 36 doubles events. She held the World No. 1 singles ranking for a total of 209 weeks.

Hingis made her Grand Slam comeback debut at the 2006 Australian Open, advancing to the quarterfinals with a slew of straight set victories. She was beaten by then no. 2 ranked Kim Clijsters in a tough three-set match, however, Hingis won the mixed doubles finals. This was her first career Grand Slam mixed doubles title, and fifteenth overall.

Hingis continued her great play by reaching her second Grand Slam quarterfinal of the year at the French Open where she eventually lost to Kim Clijsters 6-7(5) 1-6.

Here are some of Martina Hingis’ most famou – and infamous – quotes of her career.

1. “She’s here with her girlfriend. She’s half a man already” (referring to AmÃ?©lie Mauresmo, an openly lesbian French tennis player on the eve of their 1999 Australian Open Final).

2. “She’s old and slow” (responding in a 1999 press conference on why she terminated her doubles partnership with former Wimbledon champ, Jana Novotna)

3. Being black only helps them, “Many times they get sponsors because they are black. And they have had a lot of advantages because they can always say, ‘It’s racism.’ They can always come back and say, ‘Because we are this color, things happen.” (referring to the “advantages” that Venus and Serena Williams have in a Time Magazine article, 2001).

4. “It was probably one Russian too many. It used to be two Williams sisters and a Davenport. Now there’s a whole army of Russians in the way.” (Toray 2006 Final post-match interview)

Big mouth or not I’m glad to see Martina Hingis back on the WTA Tour even if most of her competitors are not.

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