Name: Martina Hingis (born Martina Hingisova)
Born: September 30, 1980
Birth Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kosice, Slovakia
Height 5'6 (1.67M)
Weight 52KG (115 LBS.)
Highest Rank: 1
Plays: Right Handed (Two Handed Backhand)
Status: Turned Pro (October 14, 1994)
Favorite Animal: Horses
Horse's Names: Montana, Sorrenta & Velvet
Favorite Color: Black
Favorite Singer: Jon Bon Jovi
Favorite Song: Anything by: Mariah Carey
Favorite Movie: Forrest Gump
Favorite T.V. Show: The X-Files
*Five of her seven 1999 singles titles came at Grand Slam or Tier I events; tied for most titles in 1999; reached the finals at 13 of the 20 tournaments she played in 1999, including three Grand Slam finals.
*Finished 1999 with 71 match wins, leading the tour, and became the first woman player to earn more than $3 million in prize money for three straight years.
*Ended 1999 tied with Lindsay Davenport for 16th place on the Open Era titles list with 26 *At the 1999 Australian Open, became the only player in history to win the same Grand Slam tournament in singles and doubles three consecutive years with three different doubles partners; won the 1999 doubles title with first-time partner Anna Kournikova and recorded her fifth straight Grand Slam doubles title; the singles title was her fifth Grand Slam title.
*Won second straight title of 1999 in Tokyo, reclaiming the world No. 1 ranking by defeating No. 3 Jana Novotna in the semifinals; title included consecutive wins over Sugiyama, Graf, Novotna and Coetzer.
*Reached the 1999 French Open final and came within three points of the title, the only Grand Slam singles title she hasn't won, before falling to Steffi Graf; also reached the doubles final, her sixth consecutive Grand Slam doubles final.
*Reached her third Grand Slam final of 1999 at the U.S. Open with a third-set rally over No. 3 Venus Williams in the semifinals before falling to Williams' sister, Serena, in the final, where she saved two match points at 5-3 in the second set and rallied to force a tie-break before losing.
*In August 1999, defeated No. 10 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, No. 6 Mary Pierce and stopped four-time defending champion and world No. 5 Monica Seles to claim her first Canadian Open, ending Seles' 24-match winning streak at the event; win over Pierce avenged her 6-0, 6-0 loss to Pierce there in 1995, and win over Seles avenged a loss in the 1998 semifinals.
*At the 1999 Family Circle Cup Hingis and Kournikova became the youngest players to ever meet each other in the finals.
*Hingis won the Grand Slam in Doubles in 1998. She won the Australian Open with Mirjana Lucic and The French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open with Jana Novotna.
*Hingis earned more than $3 million in 1997. That's more then any other female tennis player has ever earned in 1 year.
*In 1997 Hingis became the youngest #1 seed in U.S. Open History. Tracy Austin was the previous youngest No. 1 seed at the age of 17 years and eight months in 1980.
*In 1997 Hingis became the youngest Champion this century to win Wimbledon.
*On March 31st 1997 Hingis became the youngest female tennis player to ever hold the #1 ranking.
*In 1997 Hingis earned $1 million faster than anyone man or women in tennis history.
*It is well known that Martina Hingis is named after Martina Navratilova. But did you know that Martina Navratilova was named after the ski lodge where she was conceived.
*Hingis by winning the 1997 Doubles and Singles title at the Australian Open became the first to do so since Martina Navratilova did it in 1985.
*Hingis entered the record books as the youngest champion to lift a Grand Slam title since amateur Lottie Dod won Wimbledon 110 years ago aged 15 years and 10 months.
*When Hingis beat Monica Seles 6-2, 6-0 in the final of the 1996 Bank of the West classic she joined Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf as the only players to take a set at love from Seles.
*Became the youngest player male or female in History to earn over a Million dollars on the Pro Tour.
*In reaching her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal at the 1996 Ford Australian Open, she became the youngest ever to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals at the 15 years, 3 months and 22 days; unseeded and defeated 11th Seed Brenda Schultz MacCarthy in the fourth Round.
*Broke into the Top 15 on February 5, 1996, less than 2 years after debuting at 399 in the rankings, After defeating Gabriela Sabatini and reaching the semifinals at Pan Pacific broke into the Top 20 at No. 19 on June 12, 1995 just 8 months after playing her first Corel WTA Tour Event and just 15 months after debuting in the rankings on March 21, 1994.
*In 1995, became the youngest female player in Open era to win a Singles Match at the Ford Australian Open at 14 years, four months.
*Recipient of the 1995 Corel WTA Tour Most Impressive Newcomer Award; and named the 1995 Tennis Magazine Female player of the year.
*Beat No.5 Jana Novotna at the 1995 Hamburg Open for her first win over a Top Ten Player and Later beat No. 10 Anke Huber to reach her first ever Corel WTA Tour final but lost to Conchita Martinez.
*Reached the 4th Round 1995 U.S. Open; upset 8th Seeded Magdaleena Maleeva in the 2nd Round. In the first Round at the 1995 French Open saved 3 match points to come back and beat Judith Wiesner in the 3rd round. Then lost to 7th seeded Lindsay Davenport in 3 sets.
*Won her first Corel WTA Tour doubles title at the 1995 Hamburg Open with Gigi Fernandez. Unseeded in Toronto 1995 upset 3 seeded teams including Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Jana Novotna to reach the doubles final with Iva Majoli.
*Just 2 weeks into her Professional Career upset Helena Sukova in the opening Round at 1994 Filderstadt then 2 weeks later upset Sabine Hack in the 2nd Round of Essen.
*First Pro Match on the Corel WTA Tour was at 1994 Zurich where she defeated Patty Fendick 6-4, 6-3
*She is coached by her mom a tennis champion herself Melanie Zogg.
*June 7,1996 became the youngest women in history to win a title at Wimbledon by winning the doubles title with Helena Sukova of Czech Republic. Along the to winning the title they beat #1 team of Arantxa Sanchez -Vicario & Jana Novotna.
*Became the youngest player since Jennifer Capriati in 1991 to reach the quarter finals at the U.S. Open.
*Became the only player since Martina Navratilova to reach the semi finals in mixed doubles, doubles and singles at the 96' U.S. Open.
*Became the lowest seeded player to reach the semi-finals at the U.S. Open'96 since 1978.
*Hingis defeated Anna Kournikova 6-0, 6-0 at the 1994 U.S. Open Jr's Semi Finals.
*Reached 1993 Wimbledon Junior semifinals(first grass event)
*Began skiing and playing Tennis at age 2; entered tournaments at age 5.
*Won title competing in first ever pro event at the ITF Women's Circuit satellite tournament in Langenthal, Switzerland(October 1993).
*At age 12 became the youngest ever Grand Slams Junior titlest at 1993 French Open replacing prior recored holder Jennifer Capriati; defeated then No. 215 ranked Laurence Courtois in the final; named 1994 International Tennis Federation Junior Girl's Singles Champion; won 1994 Wimbledon and French Open junior singles and the French Open doubles; was a finalist at the 1994 U.S. Open Juniors; semifinalist at the 1993 Wimbledon junior singles and doubles and quarter finalist at the 1993 French Open doubles and the 1994 U.S. Open junior doubles.
Interview with Ms.Hingis - August, 2000
Q. Pretty easy, huh?
MARTINA HINGIS: I mean, I never played this girl before, so I didn't exactly know, you know, in the beginning what to do. You know, as soon as the match went on, I felt more and more confident.
Q. You've heard this question before, but talk about it again. Do you treat matches like that as practice, more or less?
MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah. I went out there and I've been working on a few things before coming into this tournament. I think, you know, I had a good tournament the last one I played. I just got better and better each time. Sometimes, you know, you've got to do it in the match, not in practice. I think it was a good start, yes.
Q. What things are you working on specifically?
MARTINA HINGIS: Being more aggressive, going in, to step into the ball, just make more myself; not just wait. I think I did that pretty well today, especially towards the end. I mean, in the beginning I was still missing a few because, you know, I didn't know her. Then once I started reading her game, it was much easier.
Q. What did you do during the rain delay? Were you here?
MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I was here, just hanging around, as everybody else. I practiced in the morning like before they went on court. I had lunch. Just relaxing, talking to people, haven't seen them in a long time.
Q. You didn't watch last year's women's final on the TV?
MARTINA HINGIS: No. In our section, some of the TVs, they went crazy. I don't know. Couldn't switch all the channels. I was just watching Arantxa when she played. I was talking to Jan-Michael, my mixed partner, this time. I was just at lunch in that corner, not watching TV, just talking.
Q. The USTA released a little sheet of paper saying celebrity's pick, winners of The Open. A lot of people picked Venus or Serena. You're the No. 1 seed. Do you find it irritating that here you are the No. 1 seed and --?
MARTINA HINGIS: Well, they had a very good summer. They played very good on hard court. Well, Serena didn't play that much since Wimbledon, but Venus, you know, if I'd be a fan, maybe I'd pick her, too. It's going -- you never know with the tournaments. Usually people used to pick me, and I didn't win the French or so. You never know.
Q. Do you feel like a favorite or do you feel like an underdog?
MARTINA HINGIS: Maybe both (laughter). Myself, I feel like I have a pretty good chance. I'm playing well. On the other side, you know, because they've been maybe playing, especially Venus, she won four straight tournaments, maybe she's the one who is more favored. I'm feeling good right now, so we'll see.
Q. Is there the sense that you have to raise the level of your game because of the improvement of these other players?
MARTINA HINGIS: Oh, it's just you have to continue to improve as long as you want to stay up there. It's like on a daily basis, you try to get better every day. It's not because someone else is pushing you. I mean, just everybody gets better. You have to get better, too, definitely, especially the top players.
Q. What kind of things are you maybe doing to improve your strength? Some players, besides weight lifting, take supplements. Do you do that?
MARTINA HINGIS: I don't want to die when I'm going to be 30. I mean, you see different things, you know, written about that people die so early because of heart problems and so. I'm scared of that stuff, so I don't. My life is too nice right now, if I start taking something else to bulk myself up to get bigger, it's not worth it for me. Maybe for other people, but not for me.
Q. Just weight lifting more?
MARTINA HINGIS: I think my speed and quickness is the end all of my game anyway. If I get bigger, I just get slower, and that's not my game. I realize that. Just have to work on my speed, just be light and fast on the court, not be a big hitter. I mean, I'm never going to compare myself to like the Williamses, Lindsay or Mary. I'm never going to hit a ball like they do. But I have other good, you know, things in my game, so I have to use those.
Q. What is your favorite thing about coming back to New York each year?
MARTINA HINGIS: Manhattan, to stay there, so many things to do. But they're almost too distracting that you just want to be at the courts here as long as possible in the morning and afternoon. There's just so many people right now. Hopefully, you know, as the tournament goes on, it's going to be less and less, and I'm still going to be here. No, it's a great town, so much atmosphere, so much tension. I love it.
Q. Does Manhattan have the most sizzle of all the cities you go to across the world?
MARTINA HINGIS: Well, they're all different. I mean, like I love Paris, too. Wimbledon is a little bit way out. I never got to go to the city this year. Paris is like more the French style, and London more conservative as the English are. This is just Americans, crazy, wild, but I love it (laughter).
Q. What made you pick Jan-Michael as your mixed doubles partner?
MARTINA HINGIS: Well, it's not official yet. It was a surprise. No, I mean, I met him like since I was also with adidas, we did that photo shoot, kind of got to know each other a little bit better. I played Hopman Cup against him, which I liked, too. It was the only team we beat at Hopman Cup, the Americans. I just like him as a person very much. I thought I didn't know whether Mary was going to play the doubles or not, so I asked Jan-Michael to play mixed. We both know the singles and doubles are more important just to play some matches. It's going to be fun again.
Q. Did you and Magnus Norman discuss possibly playing mixed doubles?
MARTINA HINGIS: I wanted to tell him before I was choosing someone else. Yeah, that issue was on the table before already (laughter).
Q. He decided he didn't want to play?
MARTINA HINGIS: He's got no ranking (laughter). No, I mean, for both of us, we're professionals, but it's just -- doubles is good for ^ argument, so no. I mean, he started playing more doubles. No, I'd probably be too nervous just not to mess things up.
Q. Hewitt and Clijsters play together and seemed to survive.
MARTINA HINGIS: We'll see how it goes. Haven't played in a while. It's less pressure with Jan-Michael, I think. People watching, expecting what's going to happen. Maybe some other time. Better focus on his singles to do well.
Q. Given that you have not won a Grand Slam this year; it's actually almost two years, how motivated are you to win this title?
MARTINA HINGIS: Maybe more than some other times, but you always try to step up your level, especially at the Grand Slam events. I know I had maybe chances at the French, Australian Open, even at Wimbledon I thought I was playing some of my best tennis. Venus played well, I was always a step late. I hope I pretty much got my game together here at this tournament. I'm looking forward to the next matches.
Q. Have you been playing too conservative at the Grand Slams in the big matches?
MARTINA HINGIS: Well, maybe at the French I had the biggest chance. Venus lost in the quarters. Serena didn't play. Lindsay, you know, lost early because of her back. There was definitely my biggest chance to win that Grand Slam this year. You know, Mary came out basically almost out of nowhere and came with this victory, which she deserved; she played very well. I was just too nervous. She deserved it, you know.
Q. Venus said after Wimbledon a few weeks ago that she thought during the third set of your match you were just waiting for her to choke, which is essentially the reason why she won, because she got aggressive and won the match, you were laying back and waiting for her to miss. Do you agree with that?
MARTINA HINGIS: It's been pretty much the whole match like that, that she was the one who is more aggressive because she has a game like that. She has got the serve to have the game to be aggressive. But in my position, I was always waiting to get a chance. In a way, it's true. She just played a very good match. She didn't let me into the game in the third set. I mean, I should have taken my chances earlier, not waiting for her to miss or to do something stupid.
Q. You said that you did not have the power of Venus or Lindsay or Mary. What is it with your game that makes you No. 1?
MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I think the consistency, my anticipation on the court, that I see quite early what's the best to do against certain players, you know, just the quickness. Don't let them overpower me; just be quicker than them.
Q. You came on as a young player, just had these fantastic results. Then of course last year there were some problems or whatever. Do you feel --?
MARTINA HINGIS: "Problems"? What do you mean by "problems"? I still had a pretty decent career so far.
Q. No one's questioning that. I think it's fair to say -- most would say you had a tough year last year.
MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know. Three finals. It's true, but, I mean, compared to '97 it was just like an amazing year. I mean, everybody expects me to do as in '97, which, in a way, I feel is like unfair. I have five Grand Slams. Venus and Serena each have one. Lindsay maybe now has three because she played better. But she's 24. The Williamses, you know, they're my age. I think so far I've been better than them. I haven't been injured as them. It's just the consistency, that's what it counts to be No. 1, not who wins the most tournaments or who hits the ball the fastest; who hits the fastest serve.
Q. Do you think people have a tendency to dismiss your results recently and overlook your results?
MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I think just sometimes people don't exactly understand my game, why I'm up there. The fans, when they watch me, because I don't hit the ball as hard as Venus or some of these girls, but, you know, I've got a pretty good all-around game, I think. It's just no weakness, more or less. Maybe, okay, talk about my serve, about my forehand. But when I get to play those players, it's just a different ballgame, you know. It's like maybe, okay, I had a few problems, but who doesn't when he's a teenager? I mean, you learn by playing tournaments. You have to deal with different things than just playing tennis. That's what you just -- it's like going to school: it's never the same what you learn, but when you go in the real world, it's just always a little bit different from what you expect. I had to deal with all these things: being No. 1, the pressure. I think now I survived quite a bit, and now I think I can improve my game again.
Q. Actually, the question I was trying to get to was: Do you feel a comfort level now with your place on the tour and a maturity and a confidence that you didn't have before?
MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, now I think I got to the stage where I don't let anybody else, you know, talk into what I'm doing. Now I can go forward again. I think I got much better the last year. Actually, I feel like I improve every month, every match. I talk to my mom a lot and Mario. You know, they're a great support to have. Even like I maybe lost in San Diego in quarters, then I made the semis, and the last one I won. It's just constant improvement.
Interview with Ms.Hingis
When Martina Hingis is bad, shes very bad. But last years cry-fest at the French Open - and the reaction she got from fans - taught her a valuable lesson: A little humility goes a long way.
By Cindy Shmerler-Tennis Magazine-June 2000
If Martina Hingis were a doll, shed probably be Chatty Cathy, that mid-1960s life-size figure. Pull a string in the middle of her back and Cathy would talk on and on about lots of subjects, all of them sure to make a 5-year-old girl squeal with delight. Shed even throw in a hearty giggle for good measure.
To be sure, Hingis has both the gift of gab and a contagious laugh. Of course, her mouth has also been known to get her into trouble, like the time she referred to Steffi Graf as old and past her prime, or when she called the openly gay Amelie Mauresmo half a man at the 1999 Australian Open.
And lets not forget last years French Open.
Playing Graf in the final of the only Grand Slam she has never won, Hingis was leading 6-4, 2-0 and seemed to have the match in hand. Then a Hingis return of serve was called wide. The ruling displeased her, but it was upheld by the chair umpire. What followed will go down as one of the greatest hissy fits in the history of professional tennis. Instead of retreating to her return position, Hingis rounded the net to look at the mark, then launched into a tirade just a few feet away from Graf. An unsportsmanlike-conduct violation not only cost Hingis $1,500, but also turned an already pro-Graf crowd wildly against the Swiss teenager.
Still, Hingis served for the championship at 6-4, 5-4. She led 15-0, but a combination of spectacular play from Graf (days shy of her 30th birthday and, as it turned out, on the brink of retirement) and the then-18-year-olds lack of resolve did Hingis in. When it was over and Graf had won 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, the No. 1 player in the world left the court in tears and returned for the trophy presentation only because she was forced to by her mother and coach, Melanie Molitor.
Now Hingis says she barely remembers what happened in Paris (yeah, right). And as she snuggles into an oversize couch in the back corner of a cocktail lounge in Indian Wells, Calif., during the Newsweek Champions Cup, she says her biggest problem is having to dress in an Adidas track suit for a European TV interview instead of being free to indulge her whimsical fashion sense. As always, Hingis is congenial and forthcoming, and she laughs a lot. Just like Chatty Cathy.
Tennis:How do you think youre perceived by tennis fans?
Hingis: In the United States Im quite OK - I hope, anyway. I think its because I brought in the results. It was not only talking, as some other players did. It was always our (Hingis and her mothers) rule. First show and then talk.
Is it different for you in Switzerland?
Well, maybe at home I dont have the best image. The press is different in Europe. Here (in the U.S.) you have so many more athletes from different sports. Its a much bigger business than in Europe. Thats one of the reasons I moved to Florida. Of course, the main reason is the weather and the training. But theres more jealousy in Switzerland because its so little and they dont have so many athletes. Sometimes I wouldnt give an interview because I didnt have the time or something else was more important. So they come up with a story which I dont think is always true, but they have to sell papers.
At the Australian Open, a lot of people were surprised to hear you say that Davenport has your number. Was that a big admission of you, to say, Youre better than I am right now?
Its true, so it wasnt that hard for me to accept it. I was nervous going into the final because I know she has beaten me in the past and shes not afraid of it. I have so much respect for her because of the way she plays. I know I have to be 100 percent, maybe more, to beat her.
Let me read you something Lindsay said the other day. She said, Ive always thought that of all the top players, Martina has the best attitude about staying at the top. Shes friendly with all the players and shes confident, but in her own way, she has fun with it. You can see she loves what she does. I respect her a lot. What do you make of that?
Oh, thats great. I always give Lindsay so much credit for her tennis game, for her attitude, for her person, and because of how she deals with all the things. I dont think people give her enough credit for how well shes doing.
Are you surprised that your biggest rival would speak so highly of you, both professionally and personally?
Well, in the past you had many players at the top that really didnt get along with each other. But Lindsay and I just gradually got to the top and then the youngsters came, like Kournikova and the Williams'. Then, when Lindsay and I would get to the semi-finals, we would be like, OK, whos going to beat them? so we could make the final together. (Lindsay and I) are not such a rivalry. Of course, when we play each other, we both want to win. We have shown that in the past, and its going to be like that in the future.
What about Venus and Serena? At the moment, they dont seem as dedicated to the sport.
Serena maybe isnt showing her best tennis right now. She looked good physically in Australia, but the tennis wasnt as efficient as when she won the U.S. Open. But I liked that dress. She looked pretty good out on the court. And with the red shoes, too (laughs).
Lets go back to the beginning. What were you like at the age of 4 or 5? Were you a very stubborn child?
When I was 4 my mother got divorced and we were very close to each other. I always wanted to be with her. She took me everywhere. When she went for dinner with friends or when they had meetings at the tennis club, I was always there. And I had to be quiet if I wanted to stay. A few people would say, If shes not going to be a tennis player, shes going to be a diplomat. I went to many meetings where there were no other kids. But I always found something to keep me interested. I was always at peace because of the way my mom treated me. She only had me at the time (Molitor would later remarry and re-divorce) and she had the tennis. She had to take care of that. I grew up on the tennis court with lots of other kids. There were like 40 kids all afternoon and I was one of the youngest ones, so I always had to chase everybody to keep up. I was very competitive. I didnt want to be the worst. I always wanted to be at the top. Whatever I did, I wanted to win. I mean, I think everybody does.
Has your father gone to any of your professional matches?
Yeah, when I played Feb Cup (1997) in Slovakia. (Karol Hingis arrived at the airport, flowers in hand, to greet Martina, and later expressed a desire to coach her; she declined.) I still keep in touch with him on the phone. He is still my father. He is still a person I know I could trust and he would never do anything against me. Once youre at the top, there are not many people like that. People always want something from you. When someone comes up, youre already on the defence, like, What do you want? You want a picture? You want an autograph? Just a question? Youre already trying to defend yourself.
When you were a kid, did you dream about this life?
I had no idea what life would be like. I just thought of Wimbledon or the French Open, because tennis was so big in the Czech Republic back then. Navratilova, Novotna, Mandlikova, Lendl, they were all heroes. I thought that if they could accomplish something, then I have a chance, too.
Did you have tennis posters hanging on your wall?
Actually, yes, in the bathroom. We had a poster of the Davis Cup in 1986. It was in Prague, the Czech Republic against Sweden, and we went to watch, so I got the poster. You couldnt get all the posters. You were lucky if you got one.
Where would you be today if you werent a tennis player?
I dont know. I guess I would be a simple girl growing up in Czechoslovakia. Im not saying Im something special. I might play a little better tennis than other people, but it is because I was given the chance, and not many people are.
Lets talk prize money. During the Australian Open, you came out in favour of a boycott if the Grand Slams dont offer parity to women. Do you still feel that way?
I think the whole boycott thing was a bit too much. Its because were accomplished so much in womens tennis in the last two, three years. We deserve something better. With little steps weve made a lot of improvements. But at one time we had equal prize money at the Australian Open and they took it away. So its not fair.
But with so many players and so many different agendas, do you think a boycott could really happen?
The top players talk more now, and we have more meetings. Were just trying to get things better. But we still need somebody who could make a difference.
(Big laugh) I think I could get more involved, but not right now. Maybe later. Right now Im still too young. I dont think people would give me the respect. Come on, Im 19 - how could I be a leader of something? No way.
OK, lets revisit last years French Open, something you may or may not want to think back to.
Thats almost too far away. I dont remember it.
Oh, Ill help you remember it.
Its very emotional for me because the French Open was the first junior tournament I won, and I never thought that it would be the only (French Open championship shed win).
Is winning the French still your main goal this year?
Any tournament you go to, you want to win it. I dont know what kind of emotions Im going to go into the French with. I really dont know how the public is going to be. I dont know. I want to leave it as a surprise.
Last year, in the final against Steffi, you were up 6-4, 5-4, 15-0. What happened? Did you get scared?
No, I didnt get scared. I think I just got a little tired, I guess. The match was already getting a little closer. Up until that time I felt like I had the match under control. Thats why I think I allowed myself to do that thing (crossing the net to contest the call). I felt like, OK, even if something happens, I still have it under control. Maybe I got tired because I was getting closer to fulfilling my dream and that made me a bit nervous. I dont think I would have crossed that net if I had Known 100 percent what was going on.
Did you feel like you were losing your mind a little bit?
Come on, it was the final of the French Open! Im sure people were saying, Hey, whats going on? I dont think its losing that mind. Its just that I felt the disrespect because on clay you have to show the mark. Theres no way you cant see it. And even from behind the net, I saw Steffi. You can tell from the players reaction if its in or out. I saw her and I saw that they couldnt find the mark. Plus, I saw it, so Im like, No way! But, of course, if something like that happened again, I wouldnt go around the net. I got my lesson. Its just that, at the moment, to go around and just to show, it was more important to me than losing the point.
Youre very principled, arent you?
I am, yeah. Thats how I think. I have my ride. But that was a little bit over the limit (laughs).
Do you have nightmares when you go back and think about that entire French Open Experience?
The next few days, when I realized what happened, I was so disappointed and sad about the whole thing. I was like three points from victory. And, to be honest, Id rather play Steffi in that final than Monica (Seles, who lost to Graf in the semi-finals)because Steffis kind of a legend and I wanted to beat her there. But it didnt happen; my career goes on.
Have you talked to Steffi about it since then?
(Softly) No, no, Theres not much you can talk about.
Shed probably think it was funny.
If Id won, Id laugh, too.
When you returned to the court for the trophy presentation, crying in your mothers arms, was that the hardest thing you ever had to do on a tennis court?
My mom told me later that she almost started laughing on the court. For her, it wasnt such a big thing. She saw me as a daughter, and, of course, she felt for me. But she almost started laughing while I was crying. When she told me that, Im like, Thanks a lot.
But how hard was it on you?
To go through that experience, with the crowd booing you, maybe that was the hardest. Not that I lost or anything. Just the crowd.
After the French you went to Wimbledon, but without your mother, and you lost badly in the first round and they media made a big deal about it. But you and your mom didnt fight, right? In fact, she kissed you good-bye and told you to have a good tournament. Then she went home.
Yeah, thats true. It wasnt even a misunderstanding. It was just like, I want to try and go out on my own. And why not? Everybody wants to grow up sometime. And you have to experience that maybe its not going to work out the way you expected it to. I was so excited. I did the laundry, I did the stringer, I did all the house things. I had my cousin over there; I had a hitting partner, so everything was fine. But then I was out on the court and I felt lost. I never felt lost on the court before because someone wasnt there, someone who had been there for me all the time. I wanted her there as my mom, no the coach. But it just couldnt happen that way. She would have to be there to see the things that Im doing wrong in practice. But probably I had to have this experience.
Do you still do your own laundry?
(Laughs) No. Well, I do put it in the bags and give it to the lady in the locker room. That's it.
Do you want to have kids? If so, what kind of a mother do you think youll make?
Of course. Life isnt only about the career. Everybody has a dream that you want to have a family and a relationship. You want to have someone there for you. At the tournaments, you often feel like youre lonely or youre alone in the room. Sometimes its not enough having my mom there. Of course, its nice and Im grateful for having that. But once my career is over, I want something more.
Youve dated several tennis players (Justin Gimelstob, Julian Alonso, Ivo Heuberger, to name three). Do you think youll end up marrying a tennis player?
I dont think so. But when youre 17 and looking around you think, Oh, this one is cute. You can imagine yourself having dinner and maybe that becomes more. And because of the surroundings, those guys are around, so its the easiest.
What do you look for in a man?
Definitely respect. Respect for what I am doing and that I have my own career. He has to watch out for me, too. Hes doing his business and Im doing mine, and if there is time left, then we can be together. He also has to deal with (the fact) that Im famous, that people are going to come up to me to ask questions or to get an autograph. It might be fun in the beginning, but Im used to being the centre of attention, so hell have to deal with that.
You talked to Chris Evert about this.
Yeah, I did. I asked her how she dealt with being with (former fiancé) Jimmy Connors. She said that it wasnt easy because they were both very individual and you want to be at the top. If you want to give more credit or more attention to your partner, youre going to lose yourself. And I dont want to do that right now. Maybe when my career is over Ill have more time.
You said at one point that you hated being a teenager, that you learned the word funk during this time. Now youre on the verge of womanhood. Do you like it any better?
I do like it. I always felt that 18 to 25 (years old) would be the best, but any age group is fun. You have to take it that way, that every day is a new day and you want to try and make it better than the last one.
What book is on your night stand right now?
Honestly, Im more into the computer, the Internet, and checking out scores or the news.
Youre also an excellent doubles player. People dont give you enough credit for that. Is playing doubles just a fun thing for you?
Its a lot of fun if I have to great partners like Ive had in past years with Jana (Novotna) and Helena (Sukova), or now with Mary (Pierce). Even Mirjana (Lucic). Or Natasha (Zvereva). And also Arantxa (Sanchez-Vicario). It seems that anybody who would be on my side would play great tennis.
But youve left each one behind, and often with hurt feelings.
Come on! Its not because theyre left behind. I felt like we didnt communicate anymore. Or we wouldnt practice that much. The fire was gone. I was hurt, too, because they didnt want to do the things to help us get better. Just because we were the best at that time, you still have to keep working.
Whats the best thing about your life right now?
Independence, and security for life. With the money Ive earned (some $12 million in prize money alone), Im going to be safe for the rest of my life - if I dont do something really stupid. And freedom. Its all got to do with money and the experiences that Ive made in life. I mean, Ive seen almost the entire world. And not just the beautiful parts. I went to Nepal with the World Health Organization. And I plan to go to Colombia to see the street children in Bogotá.
Do you ever just sit back and marvel at all youve accomplished and where you are today?
Yeah, maybe once a week we (Hingis and her mother) do it. We talk so much, not about what Ive accomplished, but where I am, what Im doing. When people ask, How do you keep yourself motivated? its like, Look at my life, at the places I play, where I am, how my life is. How stupid would I be if I wanted to give it up?
So far, whats your greatest regret?
(Long pause) Well, maybe those two, three weeks last year (at the French Open and Wimbledon). But it was a great experience. I learned a lot. Its not that I regret it that much or that I think it was the biggest mistake of my life. I dont think it was such a big thing. It was a big mistake for my image and my career, but not as a learning procedure in life.
Describe an ideal day for you?
A perfect day? Winning the French Open against either Lindsay or one of the Williams sisters. Then doing the picture with the trophy in front of the Sacre Coeur (a cathedral in Paris) in a nice dress. And then going to dinner with my mom, Mario (Widmer, Molitors boyfriend), and whoever is there for me at that time. Thats a perfect day.
Interview with Ms.Hingis
(By Andrea Leand; TennisMatch Magazine- October 1999)
Do not expect any apologies or excuses from Martina Hingis about her bizarre behavior during the French Open and Wimbledon this year. From the moment the 18 year old world champion arrived in the hotel lobby at the Acura Classic in Manhattan Beach, California, the changes in her demeanor were palpable. She was back in control, walking and smiling with a confidence that characterized her early days on tour as the most dominant competitor in women's tennis.
There was no sign of the off-color comments, petulant gestures, or dazed confusion that caused so much controversy and concern. Instead, Hingis was composed, relaxed and far from the frustrated teenager who fled Wimbledon after her shocking first-round loss to teenager Jelena Dokic.
Nearly two months after her emotional meltdown and mercurial, yet temporary, split with her mother-coach-and-mentor Melanie Molitor, Hingis felt optimistic about her game and relationship with her mother.With her sleeveless, blue-checked top tightly tucked into her cropped, Capri-style white pants, the Swiss star appeared eager to return to the tour. Her shoulder-length hair, pulled tightly back in a band, revealed the strong will and resilience in her eyes. Once a model of perfection on and off the court, Hingis never once in her exclusive talk with TennisMatch offered an apology, retraction or excuse for her startling behavior.
Then, why should she? The time had come for Hingis to put the past behind her and move on to a more positive phase. Three intensive days of media training after Wimbledon taught her to respond to questions about her peers more diplomatically which was not easy for the frank teenager who wielded her opinions as quickly and fiercely as her forehands.
That is not to say that public relations experts stifled all Hingis' individualism. No, her "refreshing honesty" as her endorser Ocean Spray calls it showered her conversation as she detailed how she dealt with the first major crisis in her career. Her fiery spirit and playfulness still laced her definitive answers about what was undeniably the most difficult time in her life.
Mother Melanie was never far away during the interview, but she distanced herself enough to allow her daughter to conduct herself on her own terms. Mother and daughter had passed the peace pipe after lengthy heart-to-heart talks during their six week break from the game in July.
Some critics blamed Hingis' rebellion on an overbearing Molitor who took on too many roles as parent and coach.Hingis' new-found fascination with sassy Anna Kournikova also drew suspicion from those who felt the cynical Russian was a negative influence on the impressionable Swiss teen.
There were also conflicts involving her clothing sponsor Sergio Tacchini, her management group IMG, the Swiss Tennis Federation, the Swiss press and public overall. Hingis addressed these topics with TennisMatch as adroitly as she handles most of her opponents.
Hingis has since dropped her alliances with the first three and uprooted stakes in Switzerland for the Harry Hopman Tennis Academy at the Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa, Florida. There, Hingis and Molitor re-worked the pieces to the puzzle until all parties were happy.Molitor cemented her place as coach.
Will the new formula work? Only time will tell.The break after Wimbledon gave Hingis time to regroup and prioritize her life. A new fitness program got her in peak condition. Traveling with her 19 year old cousin replaced hobnobbing with a dour Kournikova. New clothing and shoe designs from new sponsor Adidas appealed to the fashion-conscious teenager. The total re-hauls showed positive results when Hingis captured the Toshiba Tennis Classic and the Canadian Open before the U.S.Open in August to regain her No.1 ranking.
In talking with TennisMatch, Hingis exuded a new-found maturity to deal with the pressures and issues of balancing her personal and professional lives. She diffused doubts about her passion to play and desire to make the sacrifices needed to stay on top. But the teenager, like so many others her age, still seemed to be grappling with what she wants to be when she grows up.
TM: How did it feel to regain the No.1 ranking this summer, just six weeks after losing in the first round of Wimbledon?
MH: I couldn't believe it. I wasn't even thinking about the ranking or expecting anything when I played my first tournament in San Diego. I thought it was so far away that it would take a long time. I was just focusing on each match and just happy to be back having fun again.That first week back on tour after Wimbledon ended up being a very important one for me and for the rest of the year. It showed me and everyone that I still had the confidence and what it took to beat the top players, win a big tournament and be No.1. It showed that I was back in good shape ready to play anyone.
TM: Do the problems at Wimbledon seem a long time ago or still fresh in your mind?
MH: Those two months leading to Wimbledon seem like two years ago. I really tried to put it out of my mind as quickly as I could and move on. It was the toughest time for me to get training again after Wimbledon. I can not tell you how hard it was to get back out on court. I was so out of shape; I really had to get myself together.
TM: You didn't look out of shape when you were photographed with [former boyfriend and ATP pro] Ivo Heuberger on the beach in Cyprus during Wimbledon.
MH: Well, I wasn't in tennis shape. But that was okay. I needed that vacation. That was the first real vacation that I've ever had in my life. And it was great, lots of fun.
TM: Did Ivo help you get back into shape?
MH: No, that was up to me. No one can help me like that; I have to want to do it myself or it is not going to work.
TM: Is Ivo still in the picture?
MH: (Hingis pauses and then looks at me, barely able to contain the details of the break-up. Part of her media training taught her to deflect questions about her personal life, but clearly she wants it known that she's single once again.) Let's just say, things have changed. Leave it at that.
TM: You don't seem too broken up.
MH: Things change, that's life.
TM: Did you have to reshuffle your priorities to regain your form?
MH: Yes, absolutely. I realized that I wanted to get everything back and play as well as I used to. I finally started hitting and got my game back. It helped a lot to get in better shape so I would not have to rely on just my shots. I worked so hard in the gym and with the ball machine. I still have a lot of work to do, but I feel very good about how much I've improved. Before the players were saying that they just needed to move me and keep me on court a long time because I would run out of gas. It was funny to see when I came back that I was the one running them out of gas.
TM: What have you added to your exercise routine?
MH: Added? I'm not sure what my routine was before. I never really did anything consistently. But now, I'm weight-lifting and using the ball machine a lot. We put the oscillator on and the balls go from corner to corner, moving me all over the place. And with the heat in Florida, after five or ten minutes, I'm really working. No one ever misses so it's a good match.
TM: Did those six weeks go by quickly?
MH: Some days more than others. After getting through the beginning and getting back on court, it was still hard. My body changed a lot and I needed to work harder. Things that used to come easily to me weren't so easy any more. But when I started to put the conditioning together with the tennis, it all started to come together.
TM: What was the turning point in coming back so strong?
MH: There were a few things. Finding a base at the Hopman Academy was a big thing. I sold my house in Zurich but still have a house in Trubbach [Switzerland]. But buying a home at Hopman's gave me a new beginning. I never really had a base where I could also train. In Switzerland, I never had hitting partners and would have to invite players to stay at my home. That was not always good because then I had to take care of that person all the time. There was never a break.Now, I can go train at the courts with a lot of different players pros, juniors, men and girls have lunch at home and do fitness all in one spot. Then, I can go out for dinner with new people I meet and have a normal life. My mother and Mario [Widmer] are with me but I have enough freedom to do what I want. It is all very easy for me.
TM: Mending your relationship with your mother must have been another big thing.
MH: Oh yes, that was a big help. I realized at Wimbledon that I can not do it without my mother. She has been there with me since I was 2 years old. She never let me do anything on my own well she did, but she was always there. The only time she missed a match before Wimbledon was when I played a junior event at 9. She had to give lessons at home, so I had to go myself. I almost blew that one too. I felt so lonely out there just like at Wimbledon. I wasn't focused; I was on some other planet, in my own little world. There were so many other things on my mind.
TM: Some say that you are not the tunnel-vision perfectionist your predecessors Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles were, but your mom is. They feel that she is the driving force behind your tennis.
MH: Our way was that I played the matches and my mom took care of all the other stuff. I was happy with that and felt that I had everything under control. But when my mom wasn't at Wimbledon, I felt like half a player, a half person. We just kind of complete each other. She takes cares of her business; I take care of mine.
TM: Your mom is one of the best coaches around.
MH: (Interrupting.) For me, she's the best coach, the best coach for me. Nobody knows me as well as she does. Nobody can tell me the things that she does. When I was at [Nick] Bollettieri's or even Hopman's, there is nothing that I haven't heard before. She is a much better coach than all of them.
TM: But it must be difficult to separate her role as mother from that of coach.
MH: Well, you can't really judge something unless it's your own experience. People can tell you stories and things, but that is the way we want to try it. I just had to wake up.
TM: What is different now about your relationship with your mother that will prevent other problems in the future?
MH: We've had lots of talks, lots of conversations. I had to learn to speak out loud and say what I was feeling at that moment to her. Before if I didn't like something, I would stay quiet and not say anything. But I have to express myself more so that it does not build up and get worse. I thought that she was always criticizing me. But then I realized that she was only trying to help and wanted the best for me. Not many other people would be honest and tell me what I had to do. But I am still independent. I am still my own personality on the court and still have to do the thinking in my matches.
TM: How are you more independent these days?
MH: I drive around and do my thing with friends.
TM: Did you have your Porsches sent to Tampa from Switzerland?
MH: Yes, but I can't drive them yet. Pete [Sampras] trains there and has a Porsche, but he says it is very special and won't let me drive it. I asked him, but he said no.
TM: If you could recapture one thing from 1997 when you dominated the tour what would it be?
MH: The results. I was at such a high level that there wasn't really any competition for me at that time. If I could change something and do it over, I would have taken it all more seriously and I would have kept going and doing what I was doing.
TM: If you could replay one match, which match would it be?
MH: The French Open final against Steffi this year for sure.
TM: If you had won the French Open final against Iva Majoli in 1997, you would have captured the Grand Slam. Only five players have achieved that feat.
MH: Yeah, but if I had beaten Steffi this year and won the French Open, I don't think that I would have lost at Wimbledon. The match with Steffi was the most important. Up until that match, I was really going well, confident. It really hurt to lose that one. It still is with me. I haven't been able to forget about it. Right afterwards, I felt so bad because it would be another year before I would have another chance to win. I couldn't just walk out the next day and change it. The title was gone and I would have to wait a whole year.
TM: So you can't laugh about that loss yet?
MH: Not today. It's still in the back of my head. But not every experience can be positive. I can learn from the negative.
TM: You have to admit your underhand serves were quite something. Any regrets?
MH: (Smiling) Well, people can't say that the women's tour has been boring this year.
(Laughing) That was my goal this year, not to be boring. I've always said that I've always wanted to be something special. So, I made the match special. People probably won't forget that. It's another history thing now for me.
TM: Usually, you are so in control on court.
MH: There are stages in everyone's life when not everything is under control. People my age usually are going out to big parties and going nuts, but I have to do everything on the television or in front of a lot of people. So I got nuts a little on court once. So? I am not going to change who I am. I like to have fun and be a teenager. I will never change, no matter what, because that is me. For me, it's usually been under control. But sometimes you just have to work on things and learn from experience. Now, I have everything in control.
TM: Some say that you may not have the drive to wage a comeback against the game's growing generation of power-packed giants.
MH: Oh no, I want it more than before. I see that I need discipline. I have to have that. If I have it, I will be back on top again. Now that I have it back, I don't want to lose it. My mother does have more drive, but she does not have to push me every single day. I push myself sometimes.
TM: You said last year that you felt you were half a girl, half woman. Do you feel that you have matured into a woman now?
MH: There is still a little girl in me. I still like to play games; that is my nature. If I see someone playing, I want to compete. It doesn't matter what it is. I want to be better than the rest at everything.
TM: Was your friendship with Anna Kournikova a distraction for you?
MH: I would never blame someone else for something. I don't let anyone affect my thinking. I make my own decisions.
TM: You now both wear Adidas. Are you and Kournikova now matching Spice Girls?
MH: I don't know. I'm like Posh Spice. She picked the great soccer player and has the baby and the career. I would like that.
TM: Do you ever feel that there should be other people in your support system other than your mother?
MH: Oh, there are other people. I have cousins and family. But I'm just fine with it being mostly my mother and me.
TM: Have there been any misconceptions in the media that you would like to correct?
MH: There are some things that they write that are not true. I am not burned out. When I read these things, I am angry at first but then want to prove them wrong. It's the competition, the challenge thing again. I want to show them that they are wrong and make a fool out of them.
TM: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
MH: Let's talk about that in five. I don't know where i will be in five years and what i will want to be doing. Maybe i'll play for a few more years as long as i'm healthy. I will stay on tour as long as i can challenge for the No.1 ranking and as long as i'm having fun.
TM: Were you surprised by Steffi's retirement?
MH: Yes and no. She seemed to just keep going on and on even with all the injuries. I didn't think anything would make her stop. She's been playing 17 years which is incredible. I never could play that long. I could only wish to win Grand Slam title at 30 years old. I don't know how she did it. It was a great accomplishment. Now that she's retiring, i hope she does everything she never could do while she was playing and has a lot
of fun. But she will always be remembered as a great player.