Five-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Hingis won the first match of her comeback to the women’s tennis tour after a six-year absence.
The 32-year-old former top-ranked player from Switzerland and her doubles partner Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia yesterday beat Germany’s Julia Goerges and Darija Jurak of Croatia, 6-1, 6-1 in the opening round of the Southern California Open in Carlsbad.
“I always had it in the back of my head, probably the last six years,” Hingis told reporters yesterday when asked why she had come back to the tour. “It was awesome.”
Abigail Tordoff, Hingis’ agent at Octagon, said in an e-mail yesterday the Swiss player will also compete in the doubles events of Toronto, Cincinnati and New Haven later this month.
Hingis said she has yet to make a decision on whether she’ll play at the U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 26 in New York.
The victory marks the second comeback to tennis for Hingis, who retired in 2003 because of ankle injuries and returned in 2006.
Hingis retired for a second time in November 2007 after testing positive for cocaine during Wimbledon. She denied using the drug, saying at the time that someone gave her a spiked fruit drink.
The International Tennis Federation took a different view, saying in January 2008 that Hingis had committed a doping offense and would be banned for two years.
Coached by her mother, Melanie Molitor, Hingis was the youngest player to rise to the No. 1 spot on the WTA rankings at 16 years, 6 months. She won three consecutive Australian Open titles from 1997-99 and triumphed at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1997. She also reached the French Open final in 1999.
With a game built on tactical prowess and all-court coverage, Hingis won 43 WTA Tour singles titles and 37 doubles tournaments, including nine majors, earning $20.1 million. She held the season-ending No. 1 ranking in 1997, 1999 and 2000 and spent 209 weeks at No. 1. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame last month.