Martina Hingis is a former Wimbledon and US Open winner and three-time Australian Open champion, as well as a French Open finalist. At the youthful age of 22, the Slovakian born, Switzerland tennis representative put the racket down, with injuries impacting her enjoyment and performance of the sport on tour.
Retiring in 2003, she returned only two years later, in an event in Thailand. A win over Martina Navratilova in July of 2005 was enough evidence to Hingis that reconciliation with tennis had come.
Hingis would retire again though. A two year suspension impended by the ITF Tribunal for cocaine being found in her system, saw 2007 as the year most onlookers thought would bring the end of sport for the promising player. Yet, Martina always had one eye on a return to the baseline, and her Yonex sponsored armoury remained clutched tightly in her hand.
Hingis appealed the decision of the drugs found in her system, on the basis it was half the amount of an average positive test. Yet she had to wait for a reintroduction with the fluff of the green ball until 2013, when after a string of legends tournaments Martina, alongside Daniela Hantuchova, was back in doubles again.
Then, last month, Hingis, who was initially coach of German Sabine Lisicki, joined forces with the Nick Bollettieri graduate, going down in an opening round tie of Indian Wells. Little did they know what was over the net.
Saving seven match points on Sunday, the journey woman and her apprentice took the final set super tiebreaker vs Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina 10-5, revelling in the sunshine of downtown Miami.
The comeback kid too many, Hingis unique career replicates a spectrum. Her absences from the game could be deemed refuelling and re-energizing. This could be another step towards other athletes taking time away from the sport for similar reasons.
Throughout sporting careers in all disciplines, injuries are part and parcel. For some, like Martina, it means managing a career to get the best out of her performance. In an era where injury recovery is far more advanced, Hingis displayed a simple ingredient: patience. Her challenges in her career to return to holding silverware into the clouds with the reflection of the engraving on the cup shining off her forehead some seven years on from her last reunion, shows her great endurance and determination. It also gives drive to other athletes facing injury, and a rationale of how it can be done.
Female tennis players also can take note from how Hingis has used injuries in her career to an advantage. Time away from the sport was used to play on the legend’s circuit, whilst also exploring other ventures, such as her competitive streak in British television program Strictly Come Dancing. Remaining in touch with tennis in a more casual format, whilst still staying competitive kept Hingis fit, and enjoying the sport, whilst possibly putting less pressure on her body. Having some breathing space allowed her to come to the decision to return to the sport full-time, and gave her the hunger to do what she has done this weekend.
Athletes around the globe, and also people in all walks of life can be impacted on by this rekindling of success from Hingis. The former Sky Sports commentator Andy Gray once said ‘Form is temporary, class is permanent.’ In periods of reflection of one’s career, character-building periods, questioning one’s ability to do something can be psychologically taxing. Martina Hingis throws wood in the fire, supporting the quote.
She can be used as a reminder to anyone in this phase of development that even though you are absent from something for a while or have been performing in a different way to normal, an ability to do something is dug deep within you.
A poster girl, again, Hingis is supplying a tonic to everyone, with ingredients including steel, patience and perseverance, and is as strong as ever on the court.
How can Hingis’ return inspire you?