SINGAPORE - 20-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis truly made her 2015 season one to remember. The Swiss Miss not only clinched the Year-End No.1 - and the WTA Year-End World No.1 Doubles Team Award presented by Dubai Duty Free alongside partner Sania Mirza - but by winning the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global against Garbiñe Muguruza and Carla Suárez Navarro, she also won her 50th career doubles title, becoming the 16th woman in WTA history to amass such a total.
Hingis joins an elite group that includes some of the best doubles players to have ever played the game, including Martina Navratilova, Rosie Casals, Pam Shriver, Billie Jean King, Natasha Zvereva, Lisa Raymond, Jana Novotna, Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, Gigi Fernández, Helena Sukova, Larisa Neiland, Cara Black, Rennae Stubbs, Wendy Turnbull and Liezel Huber.
"I'm enjoying [tennis] in a different way," she said before the tournament began. "I'm also 35 now, so I think you take a lot more credit for what you're able to do and enjoy the moment, live in the moment.
"Especially when we were able to win Wimbledon this year, I mean, you could see the joy on the court already that we had to win the title. That was definitely more of a relief and joy at the same time."
With 10 titles under her belt - nine with Mirza, one with former coaching mentee Sabine Lisicki - Hingis enjoyed her best year on the doubles court since 1998, when she won nine titles but, most impressively, captured the Calendar Year Grand Slam with two different partners (Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the Australian Open, and fellow 50+ doubles titlist Novotna at the remaining three). After winning Wimbledon with Mirza, Hingis went on to take the US Open as well, and finish the season on a still-unbeaten 22-match win streak that dates back to the Western & Southern Open.
The two first considered pairing up before the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, though the two admitted it wasn't the most auspicious of starts.
"We just had that one practice and then we went to Indian Wells and we practiced a couple days. It got better because it couldn't get worse after that practice!" Mirza added.
Better is an understatement. The team, who later became known as "Santina," began their official partnership with three sraight titles in Indian Wells, the Miami Open, and the Family Circle Cup. Reflecting on that time, Hingis thought they played far better tennis to finish the season than to start.
"Obviously the first three months, first three tournaments, we were already like amazing. But I think it's just like knowing one another. The understanding of each other grew even more. We were already winning from the beginning, but after that was even more and more. But I think you have to work on that. I mean, doesn't fall from heaven, and we didn't have always perfect moments."
Resolved to remain together through the start of the 2016 season, Hingis and Mirza will have some time apart during the off-season before reconvening ahead of the Australian summer hardcourt swing - with title No.51 already on her mind.
"I don't think if we don't play together for two months it's going to really change anything. The goal is to be prepared for Australian Open. We're going to play a couple weeks before that. You know, maybe come in earlier a little bit into Australia and try and train."