Hingis 'not even thinking of comeback'
Published: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 1:50 a.m.
Martina Hingis might never play another competitive tennis match because of foot injuries.
The former No. 1-ranked player and owner of five Grand Slam tournament titles had surgery on her right ankle in October 2001 and on her left ankle in May.
``It is quite possible that that I will never play top-level tennis again, because my feet don't allow it,'' the 22-year-old Hingis told the Swiss news agency Sport Information in an interview published Wednesday.
After the second operation, Hingis pulled out of the French Open and Wimbledon - the first majors she missed since turning pro in 1994. She returned to the tour in August, then went back to rehab in October.
``I am not even thinking of a comeback,'' she said.
Hingis has been playing recreational tennis the past two months. But when she practices more seriously, she said, pain spreads through her feet and ankles.
``Tennis was and remains my passion. But I've also grasped that after eight years on the tour, I will only return if I can practice without pain,'' Hingis said in the interview. ``Competition is no fun if you can't come in perfectly prepared.''
Hingis was just 16 years, three months old when she won the first of her three Australian Open titles in 1997, making her the youngest Grand Slam singles champion of the 20th century.
She made six straight finals at the Australian Open, winning the first three and losing the last three. She also won the 1997 Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles, and lost the French Open final that year to Iva Majoli.
Hingis spent a total of 209 weeks at No. 1 in the WTA Tour rankings, but she has slipped to 11th after being sidelined 10 of the last 16 months.
Hingis has been tuning in to the Australian Open on television this week and said, ``It was fun watching the others run around in the heat.''
She said WTA Tour needs to realize that the crowded schedule is endangering the health of the sport's stars.
``If a player is at the top and always plays until the end of the tournaments, she's sacrificing her health to the tour quite quickly,'' Hingis said.
Hingis was born in Kosice, in what is now Slovakia, and later became a Swiss citizen.
She has won 40 singles titles and 36 doubles titles, including nine at Grand Slam tournaments, and has earned more than $18 million.
In 2001, Hingis filed a $40 million lawsuit against Italian sportswear manufacturer Sergio Tacchini, with whom she had a five-year sponsorship deal, saying her shoes were defective. Sergio Tacchini said the claims were made only so Hingis could avoid paying damages for breaching her contract with the company.
The New York State Supreme Court dismissed the suit in September because there is similar litigation pending in Milan, Italy.
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