Overachiever come on!Just look at her pathetic era and players she beat in majors.All washed up hasbeens or leftovers from past era and a raw erratic venus.
When it comes to someone who won 5 slams arguments about weak eras are "weak" IMO. I suppose the conventional argument is that without Graf the whole era is weak. Well, if that's true we should start discounting all of Graf's slams from 1993 forward-right? Or should we start questioning Venus's slams because Hingis was in decline after 2000? It's a slippery slope.
I think the big unanswered questions with Hingis come down to these:
Was she mentally ready to stick it out after her early success?
Others can list her "youngest ever" acheivements better than I, but we forget just how young Hingis was when she stormed to 3 slams in 1977 and came within one match of winning all four majors. She was of 16. The tennis world hadn't seen anything like that since Maureen Connolly. Not even Seles was that young, and Graf didn't win her first slam until she was 18.
I always got the impression that Hingis was closely controlled by her mother Melanie. Parental dominance is a fact of life for most female champs, but the dynamics were different for Martina. Without one parent it was Melanie or nothing. Evert, Seles, Graf, the Willie sisters, even Connolly, all had at least two parental figures in their lives. I've always wondered how this imbalance affected Hingis when she went through the rebellious teenage stage most young adults go through.
The Hingis loss to Dokic at Wimbledon in 1999 was telling IMO. Hingis had grown up her entire life with her mother's goal in mind: be a champion. That's good enough enough as things go, but sooner a later you have to win for yourself, and I wonder to this day how "hungry" Hingis was to win after so much early success. We know she liked to have a good time. If the stories about drug use turn out to be true one could argue she checked out mentally, not that her game was weak.
Did she physically in decline ?
None of the women after Hingis has been even close to injury free. Considering the beating that hardcourts have on bodies in women's tennis the possibility that injuries caused a lot of decline has to be seriously considered.
Physically I thought Hingis actually got progressively weaker. She got more and more defensive and the mps on her serve went down. What's the full story on this? Did her shoes cause her physical problems?She sued a company for this-right? What was the outcome?
It would be one thing if Hingis' game stayed the same and she went from winning everything to not being able to win a slam. That's not what happened though. Whatever was going on off the court mentally she was not the same physically.
Her game-can a defensive player win in a big babe era?
Many would argue that Hingis had a static and defensive game that was incapable of winning a slam after the "big babes" took over. I say bull hockey. From start to finish she had a tennis brain and strategy second to none except for Chris Evert. Evert is a great point of comparison with Hingis. When Evert saw the first evidence of decline she was much more mature mentally and physically than Hingis.
Chrissie hit the gym, got more offensive, and added power to her serve. It's a testament to Evert's mental toughness.
And Hingis? Anyone could see she needed added power to her serve. Yet nothing happened. If anything she went backwards. Even her backhand went from an offensive shot to one of defense. I defy anyone who say her game stayed the same to watch her from 1997 to 1999 and then again in 2001-2002. Her game went backwards.
Even a defensive Hingis was a top ten player. Had she ramped it up and added some power to her serve I'm convinced she could have easily many more slams with her all court game. Was she mentally unwilling to put in the extra work or physically unable? Perhaps both. It's a mystery I hope we'll get closer to one day. I eagerly look forward to any autobiography Hingis writes.
Last thought: Caroline Wozniacki may have some bearing on how Hingis is viewed down the road. If Caroline is unable to win slams the argument that Hingis' game was limited is stronger IMO. Should Caroline prove up to the challenge, and I hope she is, we might be see more variety atop a sport that lost something special the day Hingis called it quits.