Class of 2013
Singles and Doubles World No. 1 (1998)
Grand Slam Results
25-time major champion, 10-time finalist
Overall Record: 1,037-244
Singles Record: 548-135
Doubles Record: 489-109
Member of the Swiss Fed Cup Team 1995-1998, 2015-2017
Overall Record: 29-7
Singles Record: 18-4
Doubles Record: 11-3
2016 Olympic Silver Medalist in Women's Doubles
In the late 1990s, women’s tennis was jammed packed with superstar players – Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Gabriela Sabatini, Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, and Jennifer Capriati to name just a few – all vying for championships. The last thing the women’s tour needed was another entrant to ratchet up the competitive landscape.
But that’s exactly what Martina Hingis did.
The Czech-born Hingis crashed the party without an invitation, and soon became the guest of honor. Before she turned 19 years old, Hingis had won all five of her major singles titles. In 1996 she became the youngest major titlist in history at 15 years, 9 months, winning the doubles title at Wimbledon, a record she still holds. Playing more like a cagey veteran than a teenager, Hingis won the 1997 Australian Open singles championship at 16 years, 3 months, defeating Mary Pierce convincingly. With that win she became the youngest Aussie champion in history. That March, Hingis rose to No. 1 in world rankings and became the youngest ever to hold that position.
At the Wimbledon Championships three months later, Hingis did what came naturally – she won with a hard-fought 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Jana Novotná, becoming the youngest Wimbledon Ladies Singles champion since Lottie Dod in 1887. “I appreciate winning Wimbledon more now,” Hingis told the Wimbledon YouTube Channel in 2012. “You don’t have a lot of time to celebrate when you’re 16, but I looked forward to the dinner where it used to be the dance, and it was like ‘yeah, I am going to dance!’ But the next tournament was already coming up and I had to prepare myself for the U.S. season and the US Open…You’re in this tunnel vision. You try to suck in the moment, but at the end of the day you keep going because sports is so fast living.”
Being young didn’t faze Hingis, largely because she began swinging a racquet as a baby, and her maturation process was set on fast forward. It’s no secret that Hingis was named after Martina Navratilova by her mom-coach Melanie Molitor in hopes that her child prodigy would carve out a similar career. “It was determined before I was born with the name coming from…Navratilova, who was a great symbol of freedom back in Czechoslovakia. She was more than just a tennis player, she was a living legend and my mother was a former professional tennis player herself so that goes with it. She taught me to play at age 2, pretty much as soon as I started walking.”
At age 12, she became the youngest player to win a major junior title at the 1993 French Open and two years later turned professional. “She’s lived in the spotlight,” says Pam Shriver. “She was the most highly publicized 12 year olds ever to come out of Europe.” Hingis’s first tour singles victory came as a 16 year old in Filderstadt, Germany, and for her efforts she won a car. It was the first of 43 titles Hingis would win and the victory catapulted her to No. 4 in the world.
She began the 1997 tour season by winning 38 straight matches, and had she not fallen in the 1997 French Open to Croatian Iva Majoli, 6-4, 6-2, a calendar year Grand Slam would don her resume. Hingis won three consecutive championships at the Australian Open (1997, 1998, 1999) and one each at Wimbledon (1997) and the US Open (1997). On seven occasions, Hingis was a major singles finalist (French in 1997, 1999; Australian in 2000, 2001, 2002; US Open in 1998, 1999).
In an era where women’s players were pounding balls from the baseline with power and precision, Hingis’s punishing groundstrokes fit in perfectly. She went stroke-for-stroke with the game’s biggest hitters, her edge coming from an extra measure of tactics and strategy. She played at a fast pace, controlling the game’s rhythm and covered every inch of the court with quickness, speed, and agility. Her counterpunching abilities were fierce, she hit balls early, advancing inside the baseline to crush her forehand or two-handed at every opportunity. Her hand-eye coordination was supreme, and was developed by learning to ski and swim at age 3. When Hingis was dominating the game, her tenacity, fight, and resolve was on a different level than her opponent.
Hingis enjoyed great success in Melbourne and was a crowd favorite. She earned her first title there in 1997 with a routine 6-2, 6-2 victory over Pierce. After winning her third Australian Open in 1999 over France’s Amélie Mauresmo, 6-2, 6-3, Hingis delighted her adoring legion of fans by tossing her match racquet and two others from her bag into the stands. She then ran across court to greet her mother sitting 10 feet high in the stands.
All but one of Hingis’s major victories were won in straight sets. Not only was Hingis placing a stranglehold on the women’s game, she was snuffing out her opponents in convincing fashion. Jana Novotná extended her to three sets at Wimbledon in 1997 (2-6, 6-3, 6-3), but each subsequent major victory was exceedingly more impressive. Her most dramatic loss in a final came at the French Open in 1999 where she let a 6-4, 3-1 (then 5-4) lead of Graf dissipate into a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 defeat. Hingis lost the 2000, 2001, and 2002 Australian finals to Lindsay Davenport and Capriati twice.
In the first part of her career (1996-2007), nine of her 15 major titles were earned in women’s doubles, with the 1998 season her finest as champion of all four majors, only the fourth woman in history to achieve that distinction. All of those doubles titles came against Lindsay Davenport and Natasha Zvereva, and all but the Australian with partner Mirjana Lucic, were won alongside Novotná. Other doubles titles were earned with Helena Sukova (1996 Wimbledon), Zvereva (1997 Australian), Anna Kournikova (1999, 2002 Australian), and Mary Pierce (2000 French). When she and Novotna won the 1998 US Open, she earned a Career Grand Slam, becoming the 17th player in history to earn that distinction – also the youngest – and with all achieved in the same calendar year, she became the fourth player in history to claim that honor.
Hingis played on the Swiss Fed Cup team from 1995-1998 and 2015-2017, leading her team to the 1998 final. She was a member of the 2001 Hopman Cup championship team that defeated the United States.
With a 548-133 career singles record to accompany her major victories, TENNIS Magazine ranked Hingis 22nd in its list of the 40 Greatest Players of the magazine’s 40-year history.
Injuries to her ankles and hip forced Hingis into retirement in February 2003, at age 22. She returned to the tour in 2005 with success, winning the 2006 Australian Open with Mahesh Bhupathi of India. She retired a second time in 2007, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in her first year of eligibility.
After her Enshrinement in 2013, Hingis once again came back to tennis, this time focusing on doubles. From 2015-2017, she added ten more major doubles and mixed doubles titles to her impressive resume. Sania Mirza (2015 Wimbledon and US Open, 2016 Australian Open doubles) and Leander Paes (2015 Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open, 2016 French Open mixed) both of India, Jamie Murray (2017 Wimbledon and US Open mixed) of Great Britain, and Chan Yung-Jan (2017 US Open doubles) of Taiwan partnered with Hingis to win these major titles. Hingis and Mirza were named 2015 Doubles Team of the Year by the WTA and ITF World Doubles Champions by the ITF.
Hingis won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio in doubles with countrywoman Timea Bacsinszky.
When she reached the 2016 French Open mixed doubles final, Hingis became one of the few players to have reached the finals in all four majors in all three events (singles, doubles, and mixed). She also became just one French Open singles title away from winning a career “boxed set,” (one title in each of the three events at each of the four majors). This group is incredibly elite, as only Margaret Court, Navratilova, and Doris Hart are included. Billie Jean King ended her career just one win away, needing the Australian doubles to complete this rare feat.
Hingis has been keeping busy off of the court as well. In 2015, she was named the first Global Ambassador of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She followed in her mother's footsteps and coached Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sabine Lisicki, and Belinda Bencic.
Hingis announced her retirement at the 2017 WTA Finals in Singapore, where she and Chan lost in the semifinals, but finished the year ranked co-World No. 1. They were also named Doubles Team of the Year by the WTA. Fitting that Hingis would end her career in the place she was for most of her time in tennis—on top.
Australian Open: W 1997, 1998, 1999
French Open: F 1997, 1999
Wimbledon: W 1997
US Open: W 1997
Australian Open: W 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2016
French Open: W 1998, 2000
Wimbledon: W 1996, 1998, 2015
US Open: W 1998, 2015, 2017
Australian Open: W 2006, 2015
French Open: W 2016
Wimbledon: W 2015, 2017
US Open: W 2015, 2017