Welcome to Wimbledon Flashbacks, where wtatennis.com will take a look back at some of the most memorable narratives from The Championships over the past 20 years. After recapping Birmingham's best battles and excellent Eastbourne encounters, our retrospective heads to the lawns of SW19. Next up is Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis' dominant run to the 2015 title, part of their season of "Santina" dominance.
For more classic moments, check out our other Wimbledon Flashbacks:
1999: Qualifier Dokic dispatches top seed Hingis in first-round stunner
1999: Stevenson topples Raymond in all-American 1999 thriller
2003: Navratilova shows her class at 46 to win title 20 alongside Paes
2005: Venus, Davenport contest classic clash in enthralling 2005 final
2009: Safina, Mauresmo christen Centre Court roof with Manic Monday thriller
2012: Immaculate Shvedova unlocks historic Golden Set
2017: Returning Rybarikova stuns Pliskova in 2017 Cinderella run
2019: From qualifying to Centre Court, Gauff's star rises at SW19
THE MOMENT: When Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis, two of the world’s top doubles players, teamed up together in 2015, tennis fans were expecting great results. But no one could have predicted that “Santina” would immediately skyrocket to the top of the rankings and become one of the most dominant doubles teams in the world.
The pair christened their partnership as the No.1 seeds at the BNP Paribas Open, and immediately served notice with a run to the title, defeating No.2 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the final. It kicked off a torrid run of 14 victories in a row, lifting trophies at the Miami Open and Volvo Car Open in Charleston.
Hingis and Mirza were the top seeds in every tournament they entered in 2015, although their winning run was halted once the season turned to the red clay courts in Europe. Their streak was snapped in the first round of Stuttgart, but they regrouped by reaching the final at Rome and posted a quarterfinal finish at the French Open.
Heading into Wimbledon, World No.1 Mirza and No.2 Hingis had posted a strong semifinal run in Birmingham, and were now one of the oddsmakers’ favorites. 34-year-old veteran Hingis, who won her last Wimbledon title in 1998, was still searching for her first Grand Slam women’s doubles title after coming out of retirement in 2013.
The Swiss legend was out of the game for so long that she had been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame that same year for a glittering career including five Grand Slams, 209 weeks at World No.1, and 17 major WTA titles. But just weeks after the ceremony in Newport she announced a surprise return to the game, and a new focus on the doubles competition.
It would be two years before she would team up with Mirza, who was also a former singles player that had found greater success in doubles. At Wimbledon 2015, Mirza was looking to make history for India, just as she’d done her whole career: already the first Indian woman to win a WTA title in 2005 and the first to reach a Grand Slam final in 2009, Mirza was aiming to finally break through and become the first to win at Wimbledon.
They made their case emphatically: en route to the final, Mirza and Hingis didn’t drop a set as they tore through the draw, taking down No.5 seeds Rachel Atawo and Abigail Spears in the semifinals. In the final awaited a familiar duo: No.2 seeded Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who Mirza and Hingis had defeated in back-to-back finals at Indian Wells and Miami.
The pair had to rally after losing the opening set 7-5, coming perilously close to losing the match as the second set came to a tiebreak. Mirza and Hingis edged through to win it, but found themselves in danger again as Vesnina and Makarova took a 5-2 lead in the third set. But Mirza and Hingis bounced back and reeled off the next five games, winning 5-7, 7-6(4), 7-5 and becoming the new Wimbledon champions.
THE MEANING: The victory was the cherry atop an already successful season so far, marking MIrza and Hingis’ fourth title together. Hingis ended her 17-year wait for another Wimbledon title, and then added another the next day in the mixed doubles competition paired with Leander Paes.
For 34-year-old Hingis, it was a confirmation of the potential that she believed in when she was gearing up to make her return to tennis.
"I always believed in it. Without that, you can't come out here and play and compete at this level," Hingis told press at the All England Club. "I always felt like I had one of the best volleys in the world, one of the best backhands in the world, so you got to believe in something if you want to win."
The victory was twice as sweet for Mirza - not only was the No.1 taking home her first Grand Slam title, it was also a historic first for Indian women’s tennis.
“Every time I step on the court, I’m doing things no Indian woman has done, in tennis or in sport, back home or in that part of the world,” Mirza acknowledged. “I would like to think that I’ve inspired a few girls to pick up tennis rackets — not just tennis rackets, but to do whatever they believe in which is out of the box, so to say.
“I think that everybody [in India] knows Wimbledon; even a person who doesn’t know about tennis knows about Wimbledon.”
Mirza and Hingis didn’t stop at Wimbledon, though. Far from it, the world’s top doubles team continued their winning season with even more Grand Slam glory. They went into the North American hardcourt swing and reached back-to-back semifinals in Toronto and Cincinnati, and then didn’t drop a set en route to winning the US Open trophy.
That run to the title marked the beginning of another major winning streak, this time even more impressive than the 14 consecutive victories that Mirza and Hingis began their partnership with. The duo finished the season winning their next four tournaments: the International-level Guangzhou, the Premier 5 in Wuhan, the Premier Mandatory in Beijing and captured the WTA Finals in Singapore without dropping a set - racking up a head-turning 25 matches in a row along the way.
“At the risk of sounding cocky, we are playing the best tennis out there, and that's why we are winning that much. It's pretty simple,” Hingis said in Singapore.
“I think it's about finding those gears. When someone goes into fourth gear we try and find that fifth year. And we've been able to do that.”
Despite teaming up in March, Mirza and Hingis finished the 2015 season winning two of the four Grand Slams, three of the four Premier Mandatory tournaments - marking one of the most dominant doubles debuts in recent memory.