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Hingis aiming for the Australian Open

Hingis is looking forward to getting back on court

(Keystone)

Swiss tennis star Martina Hingis hopes to make her return to Grand Slam tennis at the Australian Open next month, she told a press conference on Saturday.

The former world number one announced earlier this week that she was coming out of retirement after three years away from the game.

The tennis player is considering beginning her comeback at the Australian Open warm-up tournaments in Hong Kong or Gold Coast, Australia.

"It's going to be great, four more weeks to go probably until I play my first tournament," the 25-year-old told reporters in Zurich.

The Hong Kong exhibition and Gold Coast tournament are scheduled for January 2 to 9. The Australian Open - the first Grand Slam event of 2006 - takes place from January 16 to 29.

"That would be the goal at the moment, to be able to participate at that level," said Hingis, who won the last of her three straight Australian Open titles in 1999.

Wild card

Australian Open director Paul McNamee said this week he planned to hand Hingis a wild card.

The former champion has dropped out of official rankings and needs wild card invitations to play.

"She has not made up her mind yet when she's coming back," McNamee told Australian media. "We're hoping Australia, but it's not a fait accompli."

Hingis's manager, Mario Widmar, said she would decide in the next eight days where to play her first event.

The Swiss tennis star, who retired in 2002 after battling foot, heel and ankle problems, said she was willing to "take the risk" of getting more injuries.

Injuries

"With every job, you have to be willing to pay some kind of price," she said. "You have to be willing to play with pain to a certain level. The question is how much can you take?"

Hingis's doctor said she would be closely monitored to make sure her previous battles with foot injuries did not reappear.

In 2001 she sued Italian sportswear company Sergio Tacchini, saying their shoes had damaged her feet.

She made a brief but unsuccessful comeback in February, losing in the first round of the Volvo Women's Open in Thailand.

Her previous match was at Filderstadt in Germany in October 2002, after which she withdrew from competitive tennis.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Hingis has won 40 singles titles, five Grand Slams and 36 doubles titles on the Women's Tennis Association tour, amassing more than $18 million in prize money.

She was only 16 when she took over the top ranking in March 1997 and spent most of the next five years in the top spot.

Hingis is one of only five women to have been ranked number one in singles and doubles at the same time.

She withdrew from competitive tennis in October 2002 after battling with foot injuries.

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