Venus Welcomes Hingis Back
by Scott Spits
Thursday, 12 January, 2006
The return to the tennis circuit by three-time winner Martina Hingis at Australian Open 2006 is bound to be one of the highlights of the tournament. Even some of her former foes are excited by the end of the Hingis Hiatus.
Not only was Hingis the undisputed Queen of Melbourne Park, but she won her first Australian Open title as a 16-year-old and participated in six straight finals. All of a sudden she was off the tennis radar, the victim of persistent and chronic injuries.
Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, one of Hingis's greatest foes over the past decade, warmly welcomed the return of the Swiss champion.
"I'm really happy for her," the world No.10 said on the eve of the Australian Open.
"I think that it was the right decision and I think that you have to live your dreams. That was her dream to come back. More power to her for having the courage and putting the work in to prepare.
"I think she's a role model for any person who wants to live up to their dreams."
But, Venus, can the five-time Grand Slam winner still be a force after three years off the circuit?
"I think that as long as you work hard and do the right things, you can do anything. The sky is the limit for any player out there, as long as you're doing it right.
"She has just as much chance as all of us in the top ten, or the top 100, or the top 1000."
The battle for the women's singles crown at Melbourne Park is sure to be hotly contested as the field may feature up to eight former world No.1s, including current numero uno Lindsay Davenport, Venus and Serena Williams, Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne, Amelie Mauresmo, Maria Sharapova and Hingis.
Venus Williams knows this year's tournament will be as difficult as any other Grand Slam event, as the 25-year-old strives for her first Australian Open title.
"There's no such thing as an open tournament. There's no given matches, there's no given points," Venus said bluntly.
"I've always worked very hard for it (my success). I don't see the draw as open. I just see it as something I have to work through."
Younger sister Serena, the defending champion, enters the tournament under a slight injury cloud after being troubled by a swollen and inflamed knee.
Venus was reluctant to speak in detail about her 24-year-old sibling, but confirmed that Serena would strive for a third Australian Open title with typical determination.
"I usually don't like to speak about Serena. I usually let Serena speak for Serena! I can say that she's in good spirits.
"Obviously I think she would have liked to have had no injury going into the tournament, and to be perfectly healthy.
"I think she'll be OK for the event and that's my hypothesis."
But what about Serena's overall fitness after an injury-plagued 2005?
"I wish she was here and I could like ask her!" Venus replied.
"It's not exactly that we talk about like 'Serena, how is your fitness before the tournament?'
"We talk about like gossip, guys and all those kinds of things. We let you guys talk about the other stuff.
"I think she's going to be OK. Obviously she's an amazing competitor, more than anything else.
"Even if she's not 100 per cent she can just bank on her ability to compete, just her determination."
As for her own preparation, Venus said she was slowly increasing her work ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2006.
"I'm out there training every day and getting used to the court surface and just feeling good basically.
"I'm just taking it slow and not pushing too hard. Hopefully I gradually build up and try to peak for the final, and try and get to the final!"
I think Venus showed alot of respect for Hingis here. Hopefully this AO is fun and exciting