Martina Hingis is a retired tennis player from Switzerland, who set the world alight in the late 90s with her incredible success at a very young age.
Hingis was a child prodigy in the true sense of the term; she dominated the women's tour while she was still a teenager, creating a litany of records in the process. She was also very successful in her 30s, returning to the sport years after her retirement and winning a slew of doubles Grand Slams.
Best finish at each of the four Grand Slams:
Australian Open: 3-time Champion (1997, 1998, 1999)
French Open: Runner-up (1997, 1999)
Wimbledon: Champion (1997)
US Open: Champion (1997)
Highest Ranking: No. 1
No. of weeks at No. 1: 209
Style of play, strengths and weaknesses
Hingis was a cerebral player, who employed a chess-like game to outwit her opponents. She was an all-courter who was equally comfortable at the baseline and at the net.
Hingis hit her groundstrokes with plenty of spin and margin, although her down-the-line backhand was often struck flat and hard. She also made liberal use of the slice, drop shot and lob, and regularly outmaneuvered bigger players with her subtle variations and deft touches.
Hingis' backhand was widely considered her best shot, but she had many other weapons with which she could hurt her opponents. Her crosscourt forehand was deep and heavy, and gave her an advantageous court position.
The Swiss was very quick around the court, and was a master of anticipation, which in turn made her an incredible defender. Her slice and drop shot were both phenomenally good, and enabled her to dictate the pace of most rallies.
The Swiss was also an expert volleyer; she could knife the ball in any direction despite using two hands on the backhand volley. Her net game improved even further in her later years, and was the primary reason why she was so successful in doubles.
Hingis' biggest weakness was that she lacked the firepower of some of her fellow top 10 players. Both her serve and her groundstrokes were hit with considerably less pace than, say, the Williams sisters, which made her vulnerable to consistent offense from the other side of the net.
Significant Martina Hingis records
Hingis was a record-creating machine in her early career, and has many 'youngest' records to her name. Here are the most significant of those:
- Youngest Grand Slam winner in the Open Era at 15 years, 282 days (Wimbledon 1996 doubles title with Helena Sukova)
- Youngest Grand Slam singles winner in the Open Era at 16 years, 117 days (Australian Open 1997)
- Youngest ever World No. 1 player at 16 years, 152 days (1 March 1997)
- Youngest Wimbledon singles champion in the Open Era at 16 years, 278 days (1997)
- Youngest player in the Open Era to win 3 Grand Slams in a single calendar year
- Second youngest US Open singles champion ever at 16 years, 342 days (1997)
Hingis was born in Kosice, Slovakia, but moved to Switzerland at the age of seven. Her parents were both professional tennis players; father Karol Hingis was once ranked among the top 20 Czechoslovakian players, while mother Melanie Molitor was ranked among the top 10 in the country.
Melanie was extremely keen on making Martina a successful tennis player, and even named her after tennis legend Martina Navratilova. She handed her daughter a racquet when she was just two years old, and has been her primary coach ever since.
Hingis started winning Grand Slams on the junior circuit at the barely believable age of 12, and turned pro just a couple of weeks after her 14th birthday. Within a year of that she was ranked inside the top 50 of the rankings, and within two years she was winning senior Grand Slams.
Hingis has had a number of high-profile relationships, having dated tennis player Magnus Norman and golfer Sergio Garcia, and briefly being engaged to another tennis player Radek Stepanek. She married equestrian show jumper Thibault Hutin in 2010, but that marriage ended on a sour note in 2013 amid accusations of infidelity and domestic abuse by Hutin.
Hingis is currently married to sports physician Harald Leemann, and in September 2018 announced that she was pregnant with her first child.
Hingis played tennis in a style that was both a throwback to the varied point-construction of the previous decades, and a symbol of modern baseline consistency. Her game, filled with intelligent touches and bewildering disguise, was a connoisseur's delight - and an opponent's nightmare.
As a teenager she dominated the sport in a way that few others have done, either before or since. While her game couldn't keep up with the revolutionary power tennis introduced by the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport, she more than held her own for a brief period, thus becoming a transitional figure in the evolution of the sport. She was the line of separation between finesse-based tennis and power-based tennis, and for that will always find a special place in the history books.
Hingis was very unlucky with injuries, and an ankle surgery in 2002 even forced her into retirement at the exceptionally young age of 22. She returned to the sport four years later, but retired again in 2007 after she was handed a two-year suspension by the ITF for testing positive for cocaine. This was followed by another comeback in 2013, and a subsequent retirement at the end of 2017.
Hingis' doubles career remained alive through all of these ups and downs. She won numerous Grand Slams with Jana Novotna and Anna Kournikova before her first retirement, and at one point held the World No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles.
In her second comeback that began in 2013, Hingis exclusively played doubles and again ascended to the World No. 1 ranking. She formed a lethal partnership with Sania Mirza, at one point winning three consecutive Slams, and also won a slew of mixed doubles Majors with Leander Paes.
Hingis retired for the last time while still ranked World No. 1, proving yet again that she is a timeless wonder who was seemingly born to play tennis.
Social media presence:
Martina Hingis Instagram: @martinahingis80
Martina Hingis Twitter: @mhingis