Here are some quotes from Madrid -
Some say women's tennis is in trouble when a player can shoot back to the top after three years off. Hingis retorts: "Technically and mentality-wise, I was not for no reason number one for four years."
Has tennis broken her body? Hingis ruefully quotes a German saying: "Sport ist Mord" or "Sport is murder". Then she adds: "I would never complain being a tennis player, not even a second. My mum was saying sometimes, when I wasn't into practice, 'Go and be a cashier in a supermarket.' I think nobody asks those people what they're going to do, how they feel after they've finished their job."
Given her size, can she ever return to number one? Hingis points out that giant-slaying has been her life. As a child she always played much older girls, winning the French Open under-18s title at 12. "My mom found a way for me to beat the big girls. I never had to play with size or power, but smartness." She squares her shoulders: "Everybody says I'm stronger now. You become a woman."
In retirement, she competed in showjumping and studied business English but, perhaps, her greatest achievement was washing clothes. "I was happy when for the first time I did the laundry. I cooked a meal and I survived. I'm like, 'Hey, I can walk up straight, with my head up high!' " She had become an adult.
"Probably against Nadia, that was the best match ever I've played. Did you see it?" Two evenings before she beat Nadia Petrova for her only victory at the championships. Hingis hopes this will break her psychological block against the best players. "I had so many chances against Amélie [Mauresmo] or other players throughout the year and I wasn't able to convert it because I'm like: 'I've only just come back, can I really beat the top players again?' "
She never used to have that problem. At 16, Hingis had already won three singles titles in Grand Slams. She was then rarely seen without her mother, Melanie Molitor, who had begun coaching her aged two. "From the minute I woke up the whole day was scheduled," recalls Hingis. "My mom raised me that way: 'Whatever you do, you'd better just do it right.' Whether I was skiing, swimming, aerobics, horse-riding, trampolining."
Hingis believes it had to do with their being immigrants to Switzerland from Slovakia. "The desire to succeed, it definitely pushes you more than when you already have everything the country has to give. Even Roger [Federer] isn't a real Swiss. His mother is [South] African, right? But I'm proud the country gave me the chance. Not even in a dream would I say something bad against it."
The young Hingis produced tears, tantrums, and taunts - she called the lesbian Mauresmo "half a man" - but she also made friends in tennis. She singles out her former doubles partner Anna Kournikova
: "With Anna, those were some of the best years I spent on tour. We had similar interests, we were the same age. She was a hard worker, she had the team spirit."