"They always have a big mouth" – When Martina Hingis got involved in a controversy with Richard, Venus and Serena Williams at 1999 US Open
The feud began with Richard Williams’ prediction that his daughters would make the finals at Flushing Meadows that year, and compete against each other for the title. Hingis, who was the World No. 1 at the time and had already lifted five Grand Slam titles, aged just 18, did not take well to his comments.
The Swiss went on record to claim that despite his comments, she was the one who stood at the top of the rankings.
"They always have a big mouth. He always has his comments. You know, it's fun. Because I'm better than them so far. I'm the No. 1, not them," Hingis said.
She also mentioned that Richard was unhappy with her victory against Venus in the 1997 US Open final and that he had questioned her about it.
"He said, ‘Why did you beat my girl so badly?’” she recollected. "In one way, he's also responding that he appreciates me or he respects me, the way I am and the way I play tennis.”
Before the feud was settled, Serena Williams had a few words to say about the entire controversy. In response to Hingis calling the family “big-mouthed”, Serena suggested that the five-time Grand Slam winner lacked formal education.
"She just speaks her mind," Serena said. "I guess it has a little bit to do with not having a formal education. But you just have to think more, use your brain a little more in the tennis world."
Martina Hingis, the youngest World No. 1, responded to those comments by defending herself.
"I learned enough traveling. I don't think I'm that dumb. I'd like to see some other people talking in three languages. It's not always easy. It's a little misunderstanding sometimes, what I say. I don't always mean, like, to hurt anybody," Hingis said.
"I never missed (school). I was always very happy about, you know, the thing I'm doing right now. I don't think the money's too bad either," she added.
Martina Hingis’ peace offering to Venus Williams and Serena Williams’ father
The WTA tried to defuse the tension between Martina Hingis and the Williams sisters by suggesting that Hingis make a peace offer to Venus Williams and Serena Williams’ father Richard during the 1999 US Open.
The Swiss player had earlier said that Richard had been asking her for an autograph on his arm in "every single tournament". However, she never entertained the idea of a signature that could be easily washed off.
"I was, like, 'Why waste it?' If you take a shower, it's going to go off anyway," Martina Hingis said.
But Hingis liked WTA’s idea of signing an autograph on a T-shirt for Richard Williams.
"It's perfect timing," she said, as she signed the shirt 'To Richard'.
Incidentally, Hingis defeated Venus Williams in the semifinals of the 1999 US Open. However, she fell short against Serena Williams in the final as the American clinched her maiden Grand Slam title.