Once the Swiss Miss of the lawns and a teenage Wimbledon champion, Martina Hingis is excelling on the tennis courts in a new avatar. When she ruled women’s tennis after Steffi Graf, she was the world’s no.1 player for a total of 209 weeks. Then she was plagued with injuries and left the circuit in 2002 at the age of 22. She made a return four years later in 2006 but surgeries done on her for several ailments showed in her game. Regardless she won three major titles before calling it quits in 2007. She made another return to the courts beginning with an appearance at 2014 Indian Wells to play doubles with Sabine Lisicki but the pair lost in the first round. In Miami Masters, however, Hingis/Lisicki won the title. Earlier this year, Hingis found a new partner in India’s Sania Mirza. Hingis was already playing in the mixed doubles with Leander Paes and won the Australian Open title with him. In this year’s Wimbledon, Martina Hingis has continued with the two Indians in the doubles campaign.
At 34 years of age, Hingis is a little older than Serena Williams and a few months younger to Venus. As women’s top players once, Hingis played the Williams sisters. She defeated Serena 6 times in 13 encounters and her record against Venus was 11 wins in 21 matches. While Venus has faded out, Serena is still world’s no.1 women’s player and Hingis says she has been inspired by the sisters to make a comeback to tennis even if it is only in doubles competitions. After a long lay-off Hingis has not lost on her natural instincts. With India’s Sania Mirza, she is the top seed in women’s doubles and no.7 in mixed doubles with another celebrated but ageless Indian, Leander Paes. With Sania, Hingis won three consecutive WTA title in a dream start ever since they began playing together. The two women have forged out a winning combination though they lost in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. At Wimbledon on Monday, Hingis/Sania entered the quarterfinals by defeating Medina Garrigues/Parra Santonja in straight sets. In the mixed doubles third round Hingis/Paes are scheduled to play third round match against New Zealand’s Artem Sitak and Australia’s Anastasia Rodionova.
With the talent of Martina Hingis by their sides, both Sania and Paes are more confident than ever. In their second round match two days ago, Hingis/Sania lost just one game against the Japanese-Italian combo of Kimiko Date-Krumm/Francesca Schiavone and completed a ruthless 6-0, 6-1 victory in 45 minutes. In the third round on Monday, the Swiss-Indian pair defeated Spaniards Medina Garrigues/Parra Santonja 6-4, 6-3 in 67 minutes. With Leander Paes, Hingis eased into the mixed doubles pre-quarterfinals. In their second round match, the seventh seeded Indo-Swiss mixed doubles pair scored a 6-4, 6-2 victory over the French pair of Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Alize Cornet.
The Indian media has covered the Hingis-Mirza partnership not just by tournaments but off the courts as well. As a youngster, Mirza began well in singles but couldn’t stand to the world’s best. She then made a big switch from singles to doubles and played with different male and female partners. Though her appearances paid her off reasonably well in monetary terms, she couldn’t reach and stay in higher echelons. With Hingis, she has acquired a new status and the pair has been seeded as no.1. As for Leander Paes, he has already benefitted from the association with Hingis in winning the Australian Open. He will be only too happy to add Wimbledon to his several achievements in a career that has already entered the 26th year.