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Martina Hingis - Turns Professional

ranked player season tennis

Hingis turned professional in 1994, just four days after her fourteenth birthday. For Hingis, tennis was fun, as was traveling the world with her mother, receiving unending attention from the press, and earning millions in endorsement contracts. Winning, Hingis would often unabashedly admit, was easy. She didn't like to practice and traded traditional workouts for horseback riding, hitting a punching bag, and rollerblading. Her ability did not lie in a dominating forehand or a killer serve; rather, Hingis's primary talent was an innate sense of how to play out points—how to manipulate each volley to set up the winning shot.

At a time when women's tennis was reeling from problems caused overzealous parents (Steffi Graf's father went to jail for tax evasion, and Mary Pierce's abusive father was banned from attending tournaments), Molitor received high marks for allowing Hingis to balance tennis with other interests. At most Hingis practiced a couple hours a day and filled her time with movies, dates, horseback riding, and other teenage activities. Hingis signed a five-year contract with U.S. based-agency International Management Group in 1993. Her endorsement deals included Yonex rackets and Opel automobiles, and she inked a contract with the sportswear company Sergio Tacchini for $10 million.

Hingis made her debut on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour in Zurich as a wild card, ranked No.378. She won her first professional match, but then lost to fifth-ranked Pierce, 6-4, 6-0. During the 1995 season she won her first match at a Grand Slam event by beating Lindsay Davenport, ranked No. 7 at the time, in the Australian Open. She reached her first singles finals that year in Hamburg. In 1996 Hingis continued to gain ground in the rankings after finishing 1995 with a year-end ranking at No. 16. She managed to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, and she defeated Graf, ranked No. 1, in the Italian Open quarterfinals before losing to Conchita Martinez in the finals. At Wimbledon she became the youngest player (15 years, 282 days) to win by taking the doubles title with Helena Sukova. She also became the youngest player to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open. Before she turned sixteen, Hingis had become the youngest player, male or female, to earn $1 million on the court. She finished the 1996 season ranked No. 4.

Chronology

1980 Born in Kosice, Slovakia
1994 Turns professional; ends year ranked No. 87
1996 Becomes youngest player to ever win Wimbledon; ends year ranked No. 4
1997 Becomes youngest player in the twentieth century win a Grand Slam title; becomes youngest player to attain No. 1 ranking
1998 Becomes youngest player to defend a Grand Slam title; ends season ranked No. 2; attains No. 1 doubles ranking
1999-2000 Ends seasons ranked No. 1
2001 Ends season ranked No. 4
2002 Ends season ranked No. 11
2003 Does not play in the Australian Open, the season's first Grand Slam, due to nagging injury
Martina Hingis - Chronology [next] [back] Martina Hingis - Born To Play

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