The year 2015 has seen Indian players Leander Paes and Sania Mirza win 10 titles alongside Swiss tennis great Martina Hingis. The association has been as fruitful for Hingis as it has been for Indian tennis.
Hingis, the youngest-ever World No.1 in women’s singles, has won a whopping seven trophies so far this year alongside Sania while her association with Paes has yielded three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.
The 35-year-old Hingis is at the fag-end of an illustrious career that saw her win five Grand Slam women’s singles titles.
While age and injuries has left her a pale shadow of the formidable singles player she once was, Hingis’ superb run this year has certainly bolstered her trophy cabinet and those of the evergreen Paes in the twilight of both their careers.
Sania meanwhile, has not been able to establish her credentials as a top singles player. But she has done well in the doubles circuit and 2015 will certainly be one of the high points in her career.
Born in Košice in the former Czechoslovakia – now a part of Slovakia — Hingis, it seems, was always destined for greatness.
Both her parents were accomplished tennis players and her mother Melanie Molitorová had decided that her child would take up the sport while Hingis was still in the womb.
Hingis’ parents dedication to tennis led them to name their daughter after another legend in the women’s game – Martina Navratilova.
The Swiss star did not disappoint her parents.
Hingis was 15 years and nine months old when she won the Wimbledon doubles title in 1996 with Helena Sukova, making her the youngest Grand Slam champion of all time. The following year, she became the youngest singles Grand Slam winner of the 20th century when she clinched the Australian Open.
She also achieved the distinction of becoming the youngest-ever World No. 1 when she displaced injured German legend Steffi Graf from the top of the rankings. She is also one of the youngest players to enter the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
But a series of injuries forced her into retirement in 2003. Although she made a comeback in 2006, she was not the same force in the singles. But her return to competitive tennis was a successful one since she won 2006 Australian Open mixed doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi before clinching the Italian Open later in the year.
She received the Laureus World Sports award for the comeback of the year in 2006.
Hingis’ career ran into trouble in 2007 when she tested positive for cocaine at Wimbledon. Maintaining her innocence, she decided to retire again rather than fight the charges. In January 2008, she was suspended for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
The Swiss star made a second comeback in 2013, this time strictly as a doubles player. She won the Miami Open the following year along with Sabine Lisicki and reached the final of the 2014 U.S. Open with Flavia Pennetta.
At the beginning of 2015, she decided to team up with Paes and Sania. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Martina Hingis career highlights:
* Became youngest women’s Grand Slam winner by taking Wimbledon doubles title in 1996.
* Youngest-ever women’s player to be ranked World No.1.
* Has won seven consecutive doubles titles with Sania Mirza.
* Has twice made successful comebacks from retirement.
* Claimed three Grand Slam mixed doubles trophies with Leander Paes in 2015.