Martina Hingis: The tennis queen who set an array of ‘youngest-ever’ records

The Swiss legend took the game by storm in her teenage and won multiple Grand Slam titles in the singles and doubles category.

Martina Hingis file photo, Image credit: Martina Hingis Twitter page

If the late 1990s belonged to anyone then it has to be for the Swiss superstar Martina Hingis. She made the sport her own as Hingis dominated the world in emphatic fashion. As a teenage sensation, Martina dominated the sport in her prime. At 15, she won her first Grand Slam doubles trophy and a year later she bagged the singles title in a Grand Slam. Injuries and off-the-court problems forced her to leave the sport at a young age, but she came out of retirement in style to win several more Grand Slam titles.

Teenage dominance

A 12-year-old Hingis became the youngest player to win a Grand Slam junior title – singles at French Open – in 1993. Her WTA debut came at the Zurich Open in October 1994 just weeks after turning 14. For her first major breakthrough, she had to wait two more years. Martina became the youngest Grand Slam champion of all time in 1996 after winning the women’s doubles title at 15 years and 9 months at Wimbledon while teaming up with Helena Sukova. Her first singles title came later that year at Filderstadt, Germany.

The calendar year 1997 entirely belonged to Hingis. After winning the Australian Open at 16 years and 3 months, she became the youngest Grand Slam singles winner in the 20th century. Besides, she bagged the women’s doubles with Natasha Zvereva at the Australian Open. Later that year, Hingis also became the singles champion at Wimbledon. She then defeated a rising star Venus Williams in the final of the US Open.

It was in the same year, she became the youngest top ranked player in history. The French Open was the only title that eluded her in 1997 as Martina lost in the final to Iva Majoli. Nonetheless, her breathtaking form made her the player to fear in the coming years.

The year 1998 will be another season Hingis will remember fondly. She famously clinched all four of the Grand Slam women’s doubles titles and became only the fourth in women’s tennis history to achieve the feat. She started by winning the Australian Open with Mirjana Lucic, while the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles came with Jana Novotna.

She also retained her Australian Open singles title and won the WTA Tour Championships as well. It was in that year she became only the third woman to hold the No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles simultaneously. It’s hard to see a player dominant as her in both singles and doubles at the same time. This sheer dominance elevated her position to legendary status.

Comeback queen

After the leaving the sport in 2003 owing to injuries, she came back in 2005 and won her first mixed doubles Grand Slam title in Australian Open with Mahesh Bhupathi. She retired for the second time in 2007 following an ITF suspension.

After being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Martina staged another comeback in 2013. She won many mixed doubles Grand Slam titles with Leander Paes and women’s doubles Grand Slam trophies with Sania Mirza.

In 2016, Martina completed the mixed-doubles Career Grand Slam by winning the French Open trophy partnering with Paes. She became only the fourth woman ever to complete a career grand slam in both women’s doubles and mixed doubles. She also secured an Olympic doubles silver medal alongside Timea Bacsinszky at Rio 2016.

It was after the 2017 WTA Finals, she retired for good while ranked World No.1 with 25 Grand Slam titles in multiple categories to her name. Hingis went through several phases in her career and made multiple comebacks. But one thing always remained constant – her hunger for success. It was the sign of a true legend. The Swiss star will always be regarded as one of the greatest players ever to grace the tennis court.

Karthik Raman

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