After a career that spanned three decades and during which she won 25 majors, Martina Hingis has finally hung up her rackets for good.
Hingis, a child prodigy coached by her tennis coach mother who more than lived up to expectations, announced her retirement from tennis last week at the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore. It was the third retirement for the player who used to be known as the “Swiss Miss.”
Now 37 years of age, this will surely be her last.
“I’m am really looking forward to the challenges ahead of me,” Hingis, also an accomplished amateur showjumper, said on the website of the women’s WTA Tour. “I am not going to walk away [from tennis]. I will always be part of the game of tennis.”
And if it wasn’t for Hingis, the world may never have heard of a certain Roger Federer.
The 19-time Grand Slam winner paid tribute to his compatriot after he heard of her intention to retire.
“Martina was partially the one who showed me how it was all done,” Federer told reporters in Basel, Switzerland. “It was great for Switzerland to have someone of her calibre. We were very lucky. I loved playing with her at the Hopman Cup, she was always super friendly, I love that about her.”
Federer and Hingis competed in the 2001 Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia together. That trophy would be the first of Federer’s glittering career.
With a game built around all-court coverage and tactical strength, Hingis won 43 singles titles and 64 doubles titles, including 25 grand slam championships in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. In 1996, she became the youngest Wimbledon champion at the age of 15 when she won the doubles event with Helena Sukova. A year later, Hingis became the youngest grand slam singles champion in the 20th century by clinching the Australian Open title at just 16.
Having come up in an era where power tennis became increasingly dominant, it was no mean feat Hingis managed to occupy the No. 1 ranking for 209 weeks in singles and 70 weeks as the doubles world No. 1. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013.
Hingis’ career was not without controversy. After a four-year absence from the game between 2002 and 2006, she said she was under investigation after testing positive for cocaine in November 2007 and that she would be retiring for a second time. She has always denied ever taking performance-enhancing drugs.
In 2013, Hingis came back again and it was in doubles she was most successful in the latter stages of her career, winning 28 titles in her third act.
Unlike ten years ago, Hingis leaves the game in 2017 on a high and on her own terms: she is the top-ranked doubles player in the world alongside Chinese Taipei’s Chan Yung-Jan, with whom she has won nine titles this year.
But perhaps her greatest legacy lies in the way the five-foot-seven Hingis played the game: dismantling the power hitters by playing tennis like a chess player, always one step ahead.