Last Sunday in Miami, Martina Hingis captured her 38th doubles title, her first. 17 years ago in Miami she was crowned the new Queen of tennis. Between those two dates? Lots of highs and lows, trophies and retirements.
Summary of an article published in French sports daily L’Equipe, translated by Tennis Buzz:
By sweeping Monica Seles in final at Key Biscayne 6-2 6-1 in only 44 minutes, Martina Hingis reached the number one ranking at age 16 1/2. A record of precocity that still stands to this day.
Surpassed in all areas of the game, Monica Seles didn’t know how to counter Martina Hingis’ tactical intelligence. The stronger she hit the ball, the quicker it came back at her.
Despite her precocity, her accession to the top was ineluctable, scheduled a long time ago. Scheduled since her birth on September 30, 1980 in Kosice in the then Czechoslovakia? Perhaps not, but her mother Melanie Molitor put a lot of effort for her daughter to succeed. This former good player named her daughter Martina in honor of Martina Navratilova and put her on tennis courts at the age of 3. Two years later she entered her first tournament and in 1987 mother and daughter exiled in Switzerland.
Her progress and exceptional talent attracted agents, sponsors and medias and she hasn’t deceived them. She became junior world champion in 1994 and turned pro the same year.
Her arrival on the circuit at such an early age was criticized by many people who feared Hingis would follow the same path as troubled teen prodigy Jennifer Capriati.
In 1996, Hingis reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and the semifinals at the US Open (loss to Graf 5-7 3-6) and finished her season with another loss to Steffi Graf in the Masters final at Madison Garden 0-6 in the fifth set.
1997 was her biggest year (71 wins, 5 defeats). She captured her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne against Mary Pierce and also won in Sydney, Tokyo, Paris, Key Biscayne and Hilton Head. And just before the clay court tournament in Hamburg she fell off a horse. Injured, she didn’t play any clay court tournament before Roland Garros, where she lost the final to Iva Majoli.
She then won at Wimbledon (victory over Jana Novotna 2-6 6-3 6-3) and the US Open (victory over Venus Williams 6-0 6-4).
Even though she won two more Grand Slam titles after this fantastic 1997 season (Australian Open in 1998 and 1999), the Swiss was no longer as dominant when approaching the 2000s.
Overpowered by the Williams sisters and bothered by recurring injuries, she dropped out of the top 10 at the end of 2002, for the first time since 1995. She announced her retirement in May 2003, at only 22, after 209 weeks at the top ranking.
She came back in 2006, reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and Roland Garros but in 2007 she tested positive to cocaine at Wimbledon. Suspended for two years by the ITF, she retired again.
Since then she came back to the courts to coach or play a few doubles tournaments, but she was also often on the front page of gossip magazines.
Andre Agassi will take part to the World Tennis Day Showdown in London on Monday, where he’ll meet archrival Pete Sampras – in another Wimbledon final rematch Ivan Lendl will face Pat Cash.
Prior to his return to London Agassi talked to Tennis Oggi about Wimbledon and its importance in his career.
Interview by Roberto Angelelli, translated by Tennis Buzz
22 years after his first Grand Slam triumph, Agassi recounts the historical moments on that magical green mantle, which helped him to grow as a player but also as a man.
“The last time I played in London – says Andre – was for the opening of the roof on Centre Court in 2009. But other times I came back just to enjoy the city.”
“I’ve always looked for an excuse to set foot on those courts again, and I think the best way is just that: play with Pete. Wimbledon makes me reflect and memories resurface. My career owes much to this tournament and to these people. I’ve learned so much here, I’m very fond of London. Here my wife shined and I grew up and matured, any excuse is a good one to come back and I look forward to it.”
“My first experience in England was not good,” admitted Agassi. “It coincided with a particular period of my life, I felt overwhelmed by the big city and from different cultures. Playing for the first time on a totally different surface made me feel like an intruder. I felt like I was in a dollhouse. I have lived a unique, bizarre experience that blew me away enough to not want to come back, because of a number of reasons, for three or four years.”
Opposed to the dressing code of the tournament, which always requires a predominantly white clothing, Agassi ended his self-imposed exile in 1991. And one year after, he won the first of his eight Grand Slam titles. A real turning point in the career of the American tennis player, who then wrote some of the most memorable pages in the history of tennis.
“When I really understood what Wimbledon meant to our sport, I came back and was forgiven by the British people. I think it was a great relationship, something unique, that grew over time. Every time in my career I played in London, regardless of the outcome, I always felt people were ready to support me and this helped me a lot in my life and career, to realize most of my dreams.“
Andre Agassi also had an opportunity to test the Longines Smash Corner at Roland Garros.
The Smash Corner is an interactive game where guests can test their serve speed against various tennis stars for 2€. Each player gets three serves and a certificate, but participants this weekend got something better – advice from Agassi himself! The proceeds from the Smash Corner go to Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf’s respective charities: Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and Children for Tomorrow.
To further support the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, Longines presented Agassi with a US$50,000 cheque at a dinner at the Champs Elysees. Set up in 1994, this foundation is dedicated to improving the education of disadvantaged children in the USA.
Since 2007 Longines has been the official timekeeper for the French Open at Roland Garros. The brand uses this occasion to organise its Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament for international under-13 players. These young tennis stars compete for the grand prize: funding that will finance their sports equipment until their 16th birthday and the chance to play with Longines Ambassadors: Andre Agassi and Jim Courier in 2011, Steffi Graf and Sabine Lisicki last year.
Photos by Longines
Need a break between two tennis matches at Roland Garros? Pay a visit to Roland Garros tennis museum (also called Tenniseum), situated near Gate B. It is open to the public free of charge from 10am to 7pm during the tournament.
The museum was created in 2003, I first visited it in 2005 or 2006 but haven’t since.
The permanent exhibition area, that has been totally revamped last year, features some player memorabilia, a few videos as well as some infos about tennis history and the future Roland Garros expansion.
Located just off the famed Place des Mousquetaires, Longines Smash Corner is the interactive game that lets spectators test the speed of their serves against the game’s best.
For just 2 €, players have three serves and will receive a certificate documenting their performance. All proceeds from the Longines Smash Corner will be donated to the associations set up by Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, which help children in need.
Roland Garros visitor’s guide:
How to buy Roland Garros tickets
Roland Garros 2013 FAQ
Get behind the scenes at Roland Garros – part 1
Get behind the scenes at Roland Garros – part 2
Take a seat: court Suzanne Lenglen
Take a seat: court Philippe Chatrier
Today at Roland Garros: Court Philippe Chatrier
Longines Smash Corner
Roland Garros store
Beach tennis and mini tennis at Roland Garros
Fashion and gear:
Rafael Nadal Nike outfit preview
Rafael Nadal Nike outfit
Nadal Nike Air Max Courtballistec 4.3
Roger Federer Nike outfit preview
Roger Federer Nike outfit
Federer Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour
Maria Sharapova Nike outfit
Serena Williams Nike outfit
Victoria Azarenka Nike outfit
Li Na Nike outfit
Juan Martin Del Potro Nike outfit
Caroline Wozniacki adidas dress
Andrea Petkovic adidas outfit
Ana Ivanovic adidas outfit
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga adidas outfit
Novak Djokovic Uniqlo outfit
Venus Williams dress by EleVen
Maria Sharapova footwear collection
A trip down memory lane:
1956: First time at Roland Garros for Rod Laver
1969: Rod Laver defeats Ken Rosewall
1982: At the request of Monsieur Wilander
1982: first Grand Slam for Mats Wilander
1984 French Open: Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe
1985 French Open: Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova
1990 French Open: Opposites attract, Gomez defeats Agassi
1991 French Open final: Jim Courier defeats Andre Agassi
Steffi Graf – Martina Hingis Roland Garros 1999
1999 French Open: Agassi-Graf, two days, one destiny
2005: Rafael Nadal defeats Mariano Puerta
2008: Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer
A look back at Roland Garros 2011
Recap and analysis:
Heading to Roland Garros
Day 1 recap part 1: Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Roger Federer
Day 1 recap part 2: Laura Robson, Ernests Gulbis, Tommy Haas…
Pics of Serena Williams first round match
Pics of Roger Federer first round match
Pics of Ana Ivanovic first round match
Day 2 recap: Mikhail Youzhny, John Isner, Svetlana Kuznetsova…
Tommy Robredo practice session
Roland Garros 2013 men's winner?
- Rafael Nadal (49%, 91 Votes)
- Novak Djokovic (26%, 48 Votes)
- Roger Federer (17%, 31 Votes)
- Juan Martin Del Potro (3%, 5 Votes)
- Other (2%, 3 Votes)
- David Ferrer (1%, 2 Votes)
- Tomas Berdych (1%, 2 Votes)
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (1%, 2 Votes)
- Andy Murray (0%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 185
Roland Garros 2013 women's winner?
- Serena Williams (41%, 66 Votes)
- Maria Sharapova (35%, 56 Votes)
- Victoria Azarenka (9%, 15 Votes)
- Other (4%, 7 Votes)
- Li Na (3%, 5 Votes)
- Sam Stosur (3%, 5 Votes)
- Agniezska Radwanska (2%, 3 Votes)
- Angelique Kerber (2%, 3 Votes)
- Petra Kvitova (1%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 162
Which French player has the best chance to win RG 2013?
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (66%, 56 Votes)
- Richard Gasquet (21%, 18 Votes)
- Benoit Paire (6%, 5 Votes)
- Other (5%, 4 Votes)
- Gilles Simon (1%, 1 Votes)
- Paul Henri Mathieu (1%, 1 Votes)
- Jérémy Chardy (0%, 0 Votes)
- Julien Benneteau (0%, 0 Votes)
- Michael Llodra (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 85