Five-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Hingis will play on the Swiss Fed Cup tennis squad for the first time since 1998 as she tries to qualify for the Rio Olympics and team up with Roger Federer.
Hingis, 34, will play against Poland in the World Group playoffs on April 18-19, the Swiss tennis federation said on its website. Competing in the Fed Cup or Davis Cup is necessary for Olympic eligibility.
Hingis, who held the season-ending No. 1 singles ranking on the women’s tour in 1997, 1999 and 2000, hasn’t played singles since 2007. After retiring in 2003 with an ankle injury, she made a second comeback in 2013, and has since risen to No. 4 in doubles. She won the Australian Open mixed doubles with India’s Leander Paes in February, and took the Miami Masters title on Saturday with India’s Sania Mirza.
Switzerland’s Federer, a 17-time major champion, told reporters in New York last month Hingis had approached him about playing mixed doubles in Rio. Federer said he’d given it “some thought” although it would be a full schedule if he also played doubles and singles.
Although an Olympic singles gold medal is one of the few things that’s eluded the 33-year-old Federer, he clinched Olympic doubles gold with Stan Wawrinka at the 2008 Beijing Games. Federer won silver in singles at London 2012, losing to Andy Murray of Britain. Hingis competed at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where at 15 she was the second-youngest singles player.
Coached by her mother, Melanie Molitor, Hingis was the youngest player to reach the No. 1 spot on the WTA rankings at 16 years, six months. She won three consecutive Australian Open titles from 1997-99 and triumphed at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1997.
Her first comeback, in 2006, ended two years later when she was banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation for testing positive for cocaine during 2007 Wimbledon. Hingis has always denied the charge, blaming it on a spiked drink.