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Hingis to return to professional tennis

Can Hingis rediscover her winning ways?

(Keystone Archive)

The former world number one, Swiss tennis star Martina Hingis, has announced that she will return to the professional circuit in 2006.

The 25-year-old Swiss retired in 2002 due to a persistent foot injury. She left the game having won five Grand Slam singles titles among her 76 WTA tour victories.

"I was never happy my injuries cut my career short and ultimately forced my decision to step away from tennis," the former Swiss star said in a statement on Tuesday issued by her agents Octagon.

"I have enjoyed my time away from the court, a period that has allowed me to experience a different side of life.

"However, I miss the game and the challenge of competing at the highest level of tennis, and I want to gauge whether I can stay healthy and compete against today's top players."

Hingis was the youngest player in history to reach the top of the world rankings, having achieved the feat at the age of 16 years and six months.

She was also the youngest winner of a grand slam last century and the holder of the Australian, Wimbledon and United States Open crowns.

Timing and will

She compensated for her lack of height with superb court craft, excellent timing and an indomitable will.

The advent of the powerful Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, punctured Hingis's dominance and her decline began. She won the last of her five Grand Slam singles titles at the 1999 Australian Open.

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

She withdrew from the sport following ankle operations in 2001 and 2002.

In 2003, she told swissinfo how difficult it was for her to leave the game: "It wasn't my decision to stop playing, it was my body's!" she said.

Operations

"These last few years have been very difficult with all the operations I had to have. I had to stop or I would not have been able to walk again, let alone play sport. But if I hadn't been injured, I would definitely still be playing."

She made a one-off comeback on the WTA Tour last February, losing 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 to Germany's Marlene Weingartner in the first round of the Thai Open.

Hingis ranks third in the world when it comes to career prize money, behind Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

"Martina [Hingis] has meant so much to the game of tennis, both on the court with her results, and off the court through her continuous charity involvement," said Phil de Picciotto, Octagon's president of athletes and personalities.

"She had just turned 22 when injuries forced her to stop. Now, at the age of 25, with several surgeries behind her, Martina is looking forward to the challenge of playing a competitive schedule of events," he said.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Martina Hingis won 40 singles and 36 doubles titles in her career.
Her singles victories included five Grand Slams (Australian Open 1997, 1998, 1999, US Open 1997, and Wimbledon 1997 and two Masters 1998 and 2000).
She was the youngest player to win a Grand Slam title (16 years, 3 months and 26 days) and the youngest to become the world number one (16 years, 6 months and 1 day).

end of infobox


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