Hingis: Taxing Travel Contributes to Early Retirement By Tennis Week
Monday, June 09, 2008
Martina Hingis and Jana Novotna at an exhibtion match in England in 2005 © Getty Images 1 of 3
Four-time French Open champion Justine Henin was on hand to annoint Ana Ivanovic as her successor and present the second-seeded Serbian with the title trophy after she beat Dinara Safina to capture her first Grand Slam championship on Saturday.
The 26-year-old Henin, who requested the WTA Tour remove her from its rankings following her retirement from the pro tour last month, joined compatriot Kim Clijsters and Martina Hingis as the third former top-ranked woman to walk away from the sport before celebrating her 28th birthday.
Though Hingis' exit was hastened by the fact she was banned from tennis for two years after testing for cocaine at the 2007 Wimbledon and Clijsters left to fulfill her long-stated desire to marry and start a family, the five-time Grand Slam champion believes the recent flight of top players from from the tour is due in part to players' desire to step off the tennis treadmill.
The taxing travel schedule for a sport contested on multiple continents across an 11-month season drains the desire for some players, Hingis said.
"Tennis takes a lot out of you," Hingis told Nick Smith of The Liverpool Daily Post
. "People think it is a very glamorous lifestyle, which in some ways it is. But it can also be tiring travelling from city to city around the world for most of the year. But girls tend to start their careers very young so by the time you have reached your mid-20s, you could have been on the tour for 10 years already."
Though her drug suspension prevents her from playing the pro circuit or World TeamTennis (WTT honors the ITF's two-year ban), Hingis is planning to periodically play exhibitions.
"I still get a lot of enjoyment from playing tennis and I think I have a lot to give back to the game," Hingis said. "I will definitely want to stay in good shape so I can see myself playing some more exhibition events."
She is in Liverpool to face Hall of Famer Jana Novotna in this weeks' grass-court exhibition match at the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament at Calderstones Park.
Hingis beat Novotna, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the '97 Wimbledon final to become the youngest champion in the Open Era at 16 years, 9 months and 5 days and the youngest-ever Wimbledon singles winner since Liverpudlian Lottie Dodd in 1887.
While grateful for the rewards she's earned through tennis success, Hingis said the sport can deprive some players of a typical teenage life.
"Of course, if you are successful you can earn a good living. You also get to do something you love every day and bring enjoyment to other people," Hingis said. "The negative side is that it can become quite tiring with all the travel and you have to be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices to get to the top. You don’t really have a normal teenage life, you spend those years on tour so you have to grow up very quickly."
For more information please visit www.liverpooltennis.co.uk.