Hingis welcomed back to world tennis
HONG KONG - World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport and the Williams sisters today welcomed Martina Hingis’ tennis comeback, with Serena Williams saying she’s rooting for the five-time Grand Slam singles winner and Davenport observing that her return is good for the sport.
“I was actually really excited to hear that Hingis was going to come back. Honestly, she was such a great player in her time and her time is still our time,” Serena Williams told reporters ahead of Hong Kong’s Champions Challenge exhibition tournament, which begins tomorrow.
“I’m actually rooting for her unless, of course, she plays me,” she said.
Her older sister Venus was likewise enthusiastic and predicted Hingis will perform well.
“I think anything that’s an addition to women’s tennis is awesome and I think she’ll do well,” she said.
Davenport said Hingis’ return to competitive tennis will draw more attention to the women’s game.
“I think it adds another great story line to women’s tennis and I think it’s going to be very interesting to see how she comes back after a couple of years away from the game,” she said.
Davenport was diplomatic when asked if Hingis could climb back to the top echelons of women’s tennis.
“I mean, each player is definitely unique and different so we’ll obviously see in the next few months how Martina is able to cope with that, so it’s very hard to say now,” she said.
“I think that it’s a very, very tough sport. Obviously Martina has been one of the best players that has ever played, so I’m sure she wouldn’t be coming back unless she felt like she could make this transition,” Davenport said.
Hingis, who retired in 2002 because of foot, heel and ankle injuries, won her first match since her comeback Monday, beating Venezuela’s Maria Vento-Kabchi 6-2, 6-1 in the first round of the Australian women’s hardcourt championship on the Gold Coast. She will play in the Australian Open, which she has won three times.
The Swiss player has said the standard of women’s tennis has risen since she left the game and that she has to improve.
Others in the field of eight women in Hong Kong are reigning U.S. Open champion Belgian Kim Clijsters, world No. 8 Russian Elena Dementieva, India’s Sania Mirza, the Czech Republic’s Nicole Vaidisova and China’s Zheng Jie.
The Williams sisters said they are feeling physically fit after being bogged down by injuries late last year.
Serena won the Australian Open in 2005 and Venus won Wimbledon, but the sisters faded later in the year, with neither qualifying for the season-ending WTA Championships. Serena played only 28 matches all year.
“Injuries are part of sports, but right now, (I’m) solid,” Venus Williams said.
Davenport, who turns 30 in June, dismissed talk of retirement.
“I know in my heart that I haven’t been ready to stop yet and I feel like when I am the message will be loud and clear, but for now while I’m enjoying it, I’m going to keep playing and see what happens,” the three-time Grand Slam singles winner said