No.1 Spotlight: Martina Hingis
Published May 20, 2013 12:00
Born in what was then Czechoslovakia in 1980, Martina Hingis was named after the finest tennis player to emerge from behind the iron curtain, Martina Navratilova. And while it was Monica Seles that would become Hingis' childhood idol, her shot making and panache around the court was reminiscent of Navratilova in full flight.
After tasting junior Grand Slam success at the tender age of 12, it was not long before she was showcasing her dazzling array of strokes in the senior ranks. Arguably the last truly great tennis prodigy, Hingis became the youngest ever Grand Slam champion when, still three months shy of her 16th birthday, she won the Wimbledon doubles title alongside Helena Sukova in 1996.
Twelve months later she would return to capture the singles crown, which she added to the Australian Open and No.1 ranking she had picked up earlier in the year. Victory over fellow teenage star Venus Williams in the final of the US Open rounded off one of the great seasons and appeared to mark the dawning of a new era at the top of the game.
However, her reign would be a fleeting one. The arrival of Venus and her sister Serena and the blossoming of Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati restricted Hingis to just two more majors. A long-term ankle injury forced her into temporary retirement in 2003, and despite making a successful comeback a few years later she left the game for good at the end of 2007.
• Her 43 singles titles were highlighted by five Grand Slams, including three-peat at Australian Open (1997-99); also won Wimbledon and US Open
• One of seven women to win three of four majors in the Open Era
• Her 37 doubles titles included nine Grand Slams; she was fourth woman in history to complete calendar-year Grand Slam in doubles in 1998. Also won mixed doubles major at 2006 Australian Open with Mahesh Bhupathi
• Youngest Grand Slam champion in 20th century at 1997 Australian Open (aged 16 years, 3 months)
• Became youngest player to rise to No.1 on March 31, 1997, aged 16 years, 6 months; and became just third player to rank No.1 in singles and doubles simultaneously in 1998 (now one of six)
• Her 209 weeks spent as singles World No.1 is the fourth most in history
• Became youngest player at 16 years, 1 month to surpass the $1 million mark in career prize money in 1996
• Her 37 matches won to kick off 1997 is tied for the second-best start to a season in the Open Era
• Led Switzerland to its only Fed Cup final to date in 1998
• Won WTA Championships in singles in 1998 and 2000 and in doubles with Anna Kournikova in 1999 and 2000
• Won WTA's Most Impressive Newcomer Award in 1995
• Won WTA's Most Improved Player Award in 1996
• Won WTA's Player Of The Year Award and Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1997
• Won WTA's Doubles Team Of The Year Award alongside Jana Novotna in 1998 and alongside Anna Kournikova in 1999
• Won WTA's Diamond Aces Award in 2000 and 2001
• Won WTA's Comeback Player Of The Year Award in 2006
• Voted into International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013