Great Sportswomen – Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis was born September 30, 1980 and was a professional tennis player from Switzerland. Born in Kosice, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), Hingis lived for a time in Florida but has now returned to Switzerland. She was named after Martina Navratilova, another tennis player of Czechoslovakian origin.

At one time ranked #1 in the world for women’s singles, she has not played since October 2002 because of chronic foot injuries, and in February 2003 stated that she could not foresee a return to tennis. In her statments, she said that due to her injuries she could not play to a level where she would again be competitive with the best, and was not interested in coping with the pain in her feet to compete at a lesser level.

Like many professional tennis players, Hingis started playing at a very young age. By 5 years of age, she started entering tournaments. In 1996, Hingis partnered with Helena Sukova in the Ladies Doubles event and made history by becoming the youngest person ever to win one of the Wimbledon championships.

In singles play, Martina Hingis won both the Wimbledon championships and the US Open in 1997 and the Australian Open in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

In 1998 she won the all four of the Grand Slam in tennis tournaments in doubles.

Martina, sometimes referred to as the “Swiss Miss”, was as widely admired for her attractive playing style as her success. Lacking the outright power of even Monica Seles, let alone the current heavy-hitters like Serena Williams, Hingis made up for it with her fluent, precise groundstrokes, skill at the net (enabling her to become an outstanding doubles player), and outstanding shot selection.

Martina was also popular with the tennis-watching public for her usually bright, bubbly demeanour in public. Combined with a not unattractive appearance she was almost a marketer’s dream. Her doubles appearances with Anna Kournikova attracted large amount of attention, mainly for this reason.

Martina Hingis speaks 4 languages. Czech, German (in particular Swiss German), English, and some French.

According to a May 2003 article, Hingis is spent her time studying English, making personal appearances for various sponsors, playing tennis recreationally, and indulging in her love of horseriding.

Hingis has dated Spanish golf player Sergio García and British footballer Sol Campbell. She was briefly engaged to Czech tennis player Radek Štěpánek, but split from him in August 2007. She has also dated former tennis players Magnus Norman, Ivo Heuberger and Julian Alonso. In March 2010, Hingis announced that she was engaged to marry Andreas Bieri, a Swiss attorney, but the engagement was broken off later.

Martina Hingis tied the knot on December 10, 2010 as she married fellow showjumper, 24 year-old Thibault Hutin, in an intimate ceremony in Paris.

In November 2007, Hingis, admitted that she was under investigation for testing positive for cocaine. She decided to retire. Hingis was handed a 2 year ban by the ITF for testing positive at Wimbledon, back dated to October at the start of 2008.

But Hingis maintained her innocence, saying, “I have tested positive but I have never taken drugs and I feel 100 percent innocent.” She also said, “I would personally be terrified of taking drugs. When I was informed [about the test] I was shocked and appalled.” She is not planning to contest the positive drug test because it could take years. “Because of my age and my health problems, I have also decided to retire from professional tennis.” The drug test results were released to Hingis after her third round loss to Laura Granville at Wimbledon, with both “A” and “B” urine samples failing the tests.

Hingis played an exhibition match at the Liverpool International tournament on 13 June 2008. Although this event was a warm-up for Wimbledon, it was not part of the WTA Tour. This allowed Hingis to participate without breaching the rules of her ban. In a rematch of their 1997 Wimbledon final, Hingis defeated Jana Novotná.

In 2009 Hingis partook in the BBC’s dancing competition, Strictly Come Dancing. She was the bookies favourite for the competition. But she went out in the first week after performing a Waltz and a Rumba. Despite vowing to win the competition. ‘She promised to apply the same gritty approach to the dance show that had taken her to five grand slams on the tennis court. “Everything I do I do to win. I am very competitive.”

by Terence Johns

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