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I still miss Hingis & Davenport - even after all the trash talking. Davy had the right at the time - to remind folks that she & Martina were the ones to beat. But now when Serena says it - she is arrogant, and Venus has neva said it.



Davenport and Hingis: Too Much


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(By Robin Finn; New York Times-Nov.23,1999)


The women's tennis season is over, and here's one last parting shot.
Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport, the top two players in 1998 and again in 1999, do not regret to inform Venus and Serena Williams, along with their father, Richard, that rumors of the sisters' imminent and inevitable takeover of the circuit have been greatly exaggerated. Plus premature.


"We're not dead, yet," noted the second-ranked Davenport, implying that any transfer of power and rank would take place over a pair of dead bodies, hers and Hingis's.


If nothing else the denouement of the season ending Chase Championships, in which Davenport dethroned Hingis, the top ranked defending champion, 6-4, 6-2, confirmed that Hingis, 19, and Davenport, 23, are very much well and alive.


"I get hysterical when I read and hear that stuff about the Williams girls taking over and being better than everyone else; it's so ridiculous," Davenport said. "I mean, look around. When it came down to the end of the year, it was me and Martina again, not just in this final, but also at the top of the rankings."


Davenport admitted that, after feeling somewhat ganged up on by the sisters and their voluble father, whose talent for drawing their opponents into distracting verbal debates during major tournaments may win him a patent, she and Hingis have formed their own united front.


It's not that they begrudge Venus and Serena their progress: both Hingis and Davenport readily admit that the Williams sisters and they now form the most competitive quartet the sport has ever witnessed. But earned victories are one thing, and hype, Davenport said, is quite another.


"It's nothing personal against them," she said, "because we know most of the talk is stirred up by their father. But we always do want to make a point: that we're 1 and 2, not them, and right now we're the ones to beat.


"You can't compare Martina and me to them; we're not close like sisters. But we do joke before every tournament that 'hey, one of us has to win this one.' We did it here before the Chase."


The Williams sisters limped away from the Chase despite plans to not only monopolize the singles final, but also sweep the doubles event and establish themselves as the No. 1 doubles team in the world heading into 2000. None of that transpired.


"Serena and I, we're both in the same boat," Venus said about the intrusion of injury on their strategy for Chase Championships glory. "We're sinking a little bit."


Serena, the 18-year-old United States Open champion, withdrew from the Chase on the morning of her first scheduled match, hobbled, she said, by a violently sore back. It was her fifth withdrawal this year, setting a record of sorts for unreliability, and it rivaled her absence from Wimbledon (flu was the official culprit that time) for the intrigue it generated. Was she really incapacitated or simply making the competition less complicated for Venus, who has yet to win a Grand Slam event or a Chase championship and is, by her own admission, in arrears when it comes to making good on her goals?


"As far as meeting my goals, it was a bad year in some of them," said 19-year-old Venus, whose six titles vaulted her to a career-best third in the world, just ahead of her sister, but didn't come at the events that count most. "I wanted to naturally have a higher ranking, to say the least, take home some Grand Slams. I took home some Grand Slams, but they weren't singles."


Venus overlooked a neck strain through two rounds, then blamed it for her semifinal defeat in a slugfest that conjured memories of a loss to Hingis at the same important stage of the United States Open. Cramping was the culprit on that occasion. Since being eclipsed at the Open by Serena, Venus not only announced plans to transform her game into a serve-and-volley masterpiece, but also threw herself into college classes in pursuit of an associate's degree in residential design. Twice she has demanded, and received, midweek starts at tournaments not because she's nursing an injury but because she prefers to spend her Mondays and Tuesdays in the classroom.


It's special treatment, sure, but to withhold permission puts WTA Tour executives in the unflattering position of hindering the player's public, image-enhancing attempt to blend elite athletics and higher education.


"We're working with the Williams sisters and their agents to make sure the tournament commitments they make are honored because that's extremely important to the credibility of the tour," said Bart McGuire, the WTA Tour's chief executive. As for the verbal feints and jabs regarding who is best in the world and why, McGuire has elected to leave the Hingis-Davenport and Williams-Williams camps to have at it.


"It's not like they're saying anything players like Chrissie Evert and Martina Navratilova didn't think," he said, "they just didn't say it in that era. But this is a new era."
 

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Discussion Starter #2
1999 French Open

Martina! In Her Own Words


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(By Andrea Leand; TennisMatch Magazine- October 1999)

Do not expect any apologies or excuses from Martina Hingis about her bizarre behavior during the French Open and Wimbledon this year. From the moment the 18 year old world champion arrived in the hotel lobby at the Acura Classic in Manhattan Beach, California, the changes in her demeanor were palpable. She was back in control, walking and smiling with a confidence that characterized her early days on tour as the most dominant competitor in women's tennis.
There was no sign of the off-color comments, petulant gestures, or dazed confusion that caused so much controversy and concern. Instead, Hingis was composed, relaxed and far from the frustrated teenager who fled Wimbledon after her shocking first-round loss to teenager Jelena Dokic.
Nearly two months after her emotional meltdown and mercurial, yet temporary, split with her mother-coach-and-mentor Melanie Molitor, Hingis felt optimistic about her game and relationship with her mother.With her sleeveless, blue-checked top tightly tucked into her cropped, Capri-style white pants, the Swiss star appeared eager to return to the tour. Her shoulder-length hair, pulled tightly back in a band, revealed the strong will and resilience in her eyes. Once a model of perfection on and off the court, Hingis never once in her exclusive talk with TennisMatch offered an apology, retraction or excuse for her startling behavior.
Then, why should she? The time had come for Hingis to put the past behind her and move on to a more positive phase. Three intensive days of media training after Wimbledon taught her to respond to questions about her peers more diplomatically which was not easy for the frank teenager who wielded her opinions as quickly and fiercely as her forehands.
That is not to say that public relations experts stifled all Hingis' individualism. No, her "refreshing honesty" as her endorser Ocean Spray calls it showered her conversation as she detailed how she dealt with the first major crisis in her career. Her fiery spirit and playfulness still laced her definitive answers about what was undeniably the most difficult time in her life.
Mother Melanie was never far away during the interview, but she distanced herself enough to allow her daughter to conduct herself on her own terms. Mother and daughter had passed the peace pipe after lengthy heart-to-heart talks during their six week break from the game in July.
Some critics blamed Hingis' rebellion on an overbearing Molitor who took on too many roles as parent and coach.Hingis' new-found fascination with sassy Anna Kournikova also drew suspicion from those who felt the cynical Russian was a negative influence on the impressionable Swiss teen.
There were also conflicts involving her clothing sponsor Sergio Tacchini, her management group IMG, the Swiss Tennis Federation, the Swiss press and public overall. Hingis addressed these topics with TennisMatch as adroitly as she handles most of her opponents.
Hingis has since dropped her alliances with the first three and uprooted stakes in Switzerland for the Harry Hopman Tennis Academy at the Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa, Florida. There, Hingis and Molitor re-worked the pieces to the puzzle until all parties were happy.Molitor cemented her place as coach.
Will the new formula work? Only time will tell.The break after Wimbledon gave Hingis time to regroup and prioritize her life. A new fitness program got her in peak condition. Traveling with her 19 year old cousin replaced hobnobbing with a dour Kournikova. New clothing and shoe designs from new sponsor Adidas appealed to the fashion-conscious teenager. The total re-hauls showed positive results when Hingis captured the Toshiba Tennis Classic and the Canadian Open before the U.S.Open in August to regain her No.1 ranking.
In talking with TennisMatch, Hingis exuded a new-found maturity to deal with the pressures and issues of balancing her personal and professional lives. She diffused doubts about her passion to play and desire to make the sacrifices needed to stay on top. But the teenager, like so many others her age, still seemed to be grappling with what she wants to be when she grows up.


TM: How did it feel to regain the No.1 ranking this summer, just six weeks after losing in the first round of Wimbledon?


MH: I couldn't believe it. I wasn't even thinking about the ranking or expecting anything when I played my first tournament in San Diego. I thought it was so far away that it would take a long time. I was just focusing on each match and just happy to be back having fun again.That first week back on tour after Wimbledon ended up being a very important one for me and for the rest of the year. It showed me and everyone that I still had the confidence and what it took to beat the top players, win a big tournament and be No.1. It showed that I was back in good shape ready to play anyone.


TM: Do the problems at Wimbledon seem a long time ago or still fresh in your mind?


MH: Those two months leading to Wimbledon seem like two years ago. I really tried to put it out of my mind as quickly as I could and move on. It was the toughest time for me to get training again after Wimbledon. I can not tell you how hard it was to get back out on court. I was so out of shape; I really had to get myself together.


TM: You didn't look out of shape when you were photographed with [former boyfriend and ATP pro] Ivo Heuberger on the beach in Cyprus during Wimbledon.


MH: Well, I wasn't in tennis shape. But that was okay. I needed that vacation. That was the first real vacation that I've ever had in my life. And it was great, lots of fun.


TM: Did Ivo help you get back into shape?


MH: No, that was up to me. No one can help me like that; I have to want to do it myself or it is not going to work.


TM: Is Ivo still in the picture?


MH: (Hingis pauses and then looks at me, barely able to contain the details of the break-up. Part of her media training taught her to deflect questions about her personal life, but clearly she wants it known that she's single once again.) Let's just say, things have changed. Leave it at that.


TM: You don't seem too broken up.


MH: Things change, that's life.


TM: Did you have to reshuffle your priorities to regain your form?


MH: Yes, absolutely. I realized that I wanted to get everything back and play as well as I used to. I finally started hitting and got my game back. It helped a lot to get in better shape so I would not have to rely on just my shots. I worked so hard in the gym and with the ball machine. I still have a lot of work to do, but I feel very good about how much I've improved. Before the players were saying that they just needed to move me and keep me on court a long time because I would run out of gas. It was funny to see when I came back that I was the one running them out of gas.


TM: What have you added to your exercise routine?


MH: Added? I'm not sure what my routine was before. I never really did anything consistently. But now, I'm weight-lifting and using the ball machine a lot. We put the oscillator on and the balls go from corner to corner, moving me all over the place. And with the heat in Florida, after five or ten minutes, I'm really working. No one ever misses so it's a good match.


TM: Did those six weeks go by quickly?


MH: Some days more than others. After getting through the beginning and getting back on court, it was still hard. My body changed a lot and I needed to work harder. Things that used to come easily to me weren't so easy any more. But when I started to put the conditioning together with the tennis, it all started to come together.


TM: What was the turning point in coming back so strong?


MH: There were a few things. Finding a base at the Hopman Academy was a big thing. I sold my house in Zurich but still have a house in Trubbach [Switzerland]. But buying a home at Hopman's gave me a new beginning. I never really had a base where I could also train. In Switzerland, I never had hitting partners and would have to invite players to stay at my home. That was not always good because then I had to take care of that person all the time. There was never a break.Now, I can go train at the courts with a lot of different players pros, juniors, men and girls have lunch at home and do fitness all in one spot. Then, I can go out for dinner with new people I meet and have a normal life. My mother and Mario [Widmer] are with me but I have enough freedom to do what I want. It is all very easy for me.


TM: Mending your relationship with your mother must have been another big thing.


MH: Oh yes, that was a big help. I realized at Wimbledon that I can not do it without my mother. She has been there with me since I was 2 years old. She never let me do anything on my own well she did, but she was always there. The only time she missed a match before Wimbledon was when I played a junior event at 9. She had to give lessons at home, so I had to go myself. I almost blew that one too. I felt so lonely out there just like at Wimbledon. I wasn't focused; I was on some other planet, in my own little world. There were so many other things on my mind.


TM: Some say that you are not the tunnel-vision perfectionist your predecessors Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles were, but your mom is. They feel that she is the driving force behind your tennis.


MH: Our way was that I played the matches and my mom took care of all the other stuff. I was happy with that and felt that I had everything under control. But when my mom wasn't at Wimbledon, I felt like half a player, a half person. We just kind of complete each other. She takes cares of her business; I take care of mine.


TM: Your mom is one of the best coaches around.


MH: (Interrupting.) For me, she's the best coach, the best coach for me. Nobody knows me as well as she does. Nobody can tell me the things that she does. When I was at [Nick] Bollettieri's or even Hopman's, there is nothing that I haven't heard before. She is a much better coach than all of them.


TM: But it must be difficult to separate her role as mother from that of coach.


MH: Well, you can't really judge something unless it's your own experience. People can tell you stories and things, but that is the way we want to try it. I just had to wake up.


TM: What is different now about your relationship with your mother that will prevent other problems in the future?


MH: We've had lots of talks, lots of conversations. I had to learn to speak out loud and say what I was feeling at that moment to her. Before if I didn't like something, I would stay quiet and not say anything. But I have to express myself more so that it does not build up and get worse. I thought that she was always criticizing me. But then I realized that she was only trying to help and wanted the best for me. Not many other people would be honest and tell me what I had to do. But I am still independent. I am still my own personality on the court and still have to do the thinking in my matches.


TM: How are you more independent these days?


MH: I drive around and do my thing with friends.


TM: Did you have your Porsches sent to Tampa from Switzerland?


MH: Yes, but I can't drive them yet. Pete [Sampras] trains there and has a Porsche, but he says it is very special and won't let me drive it. I asked him, but he said no.


TM: If you could recapture one thing from 1997 when you dominated the tour what would it be?


MH: The results. I was at such a high level that there wasn't really any competition for me at that time. If I could change something and do it over, I would have taken it all more seriously and I would have kept going and doing what I was doing.


TM: If you could replay one match, which match would it be?


MH: The French Open final against Steffi this year for sure.


TM: If you had won the French Open final against Iva Majoli in 1997, you would have captured the Grand Slam. Only five players have achieved that feat.


MH: Yeah, but if I had beaten Steffi this year and won the French Open, I don't think that I would have lost at Wimbledon. The match with Steffi was the most important. Up until that match, I was really going well, confident. It really hurt to lose that one. It still is with me. I haven't been able to forget about it. Right afterwards, I felt so bad because it would be another year before I would have another chance to win. I couldn't just walk out the next day and change it. The title was gone and I would have to wait a whole year.


TM: So you can't laugh about that loss yet?


MH: Not today. It's still in the back of my head. But not every experience can be positive. I can learn from the negative.


TM: You have to admit your underhand serves were quite something. Any regrets?


MH: (Smiling) Well, people can't say that the women's tour has been boring this year.
(Laughing) That was my goal this year, not to be boring. I've always said that I've always wanted to be something special. So, I made the match special. People probably won't forget that. It's another history thing now for me.


TM: Usually, you are so in control on court.


MH: There are stages in everyone's life when not everything is under control. People my age usually are going out to big parties and going nuts, but I have to do everything on the television or in front of a lot of people. So I got nuts a little on court once. So? I am not going to change who I am. I like to have fun and be a teenager. I will never change, no matter what, because that is me. For me, it's usually been under control. But sometimes you just have to work on things and learn from experience. Now, I have everything in control.


TM: Some say that you may not have the drive to wage a comeback against the game's growing generation of power-packed giants.


MH: Oh no, I want it more than before. I see that I need discipline. I have to have that. If I have it, I will be back on top again. Now that I have it back, I don't want to lose it. My mother does have more drive, but she does not have to push me every single day. I push myself sometimes.


TM: You said last year that you felt you were half a girl, half woman. Do you feel that you have matured into a woman now?


MH: There is still a little girl in me. I still like to play games; that is my nature. If I see someone playing, I want to compete. It doesn't matter what it is. I want to be better than the rest at everything.


TM: Was your friendship with Anna Kournikova a distraction for you?


MH: I would never blame someone else for something. I don't let anyone affect my thinking. I make my own decisions.


TM: You now both wear Adidas. Are you and Kournikova now matching Spice Girls?


MH: I don't know. I'm like Posh Spice. She picked the great soccer player and has the baby and the career. I would like that.


TM: Do you ever feel that there should be other people in your support system other than your mother?


MH: Oh, there are other people. I have cousins and family. But I'm just fine with it being mostly my mother and me.


TM: Have there been any misconceptions in the media that you would like to correct?


MH: There are some things that they write that are not true. I am not burned out. When I read these things, I am angry at first but then want to prove them wrong. It's the competition, the challenge thing again. I want to show them that they are wrong and make a fool out of them.


TM: Where do you see yourself five years from now?


MH: Let's talk about that in five. I don't know where i will be in five years and what i will want to be doing. Maybe i'll play for a few more years as long as i'm healthy. I will stay on tour as long as i can challenge for the No.1 ranking and as long as i'm having fun.


TM: Were you surprised by Steffi's retirement?


MH: Yes and no. She seemed to just keep going on and on even with all the injuries. I didn't think anything would make her stop. She's been playing 17 years which is incredible. I never could play that long. I could only wish to win Grand Slam title at 30 years old. I don't know how she did it. It was a great accomplishment. Now that she's retiring, i hope she does everything she never could do while she was playing and has a lot of fun. But she will always be remembered as a great player.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Check Out Her Last Line

I think Venus misses Martina 2. I really do.




No More Tears


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When Martina Hingis is bad, she’s very bad. But last year’s cry-fest at the French Open - and the reaction she got from fans - taught her a valuable lesson: A little humility goes a long way.
By Cindy Shmerler-Tennis Magazine-June 2000
If Martina Hingis were a doll, she’d probably be Chatty Cathy, that mid-1960s life-size figure. Pull a string in the middle of her back and Cathy would talk on and on about lots of subjects, all of them sure to make a 5-year-old girl squeal with delight. She’d even throw in a hearty giggle for good measure.

To be sure, Hingis has both the gift of gab and a contagious laugh. Of course, her mouth has also been known to get her into trouble, like the time she referred to Steffi Graf as old and past her prime, or when she called the openly gay Amelie Mauresmo “half a man” at the 1999 Australian Open.

And let’s not forget last year’s French Open.

Playing Graf in the final of the only Grand Slam she has never won, Hingis was leading 6-4, 2-0 and seemed to have the match in hand. Then a Hingis return of serve was called wide. The ruling displeased her, but it was upheld by the chair umpire. What followed will go down as one of the greatest hissy fits in the history of professional tennis. Instead of retreating to her return position, Hingis rounded the net to look at the mark, then launched into a tirade just a few feet away from Graf. An unsportsmanlike-conduct violation not only cost Hingis $1,500, but also turned an already pro-Graf crowd wildly against the Swiss teenager.

Still, Hingis served for the championship at 6-4, 5-4. She led 15-0, but a combination of spectacular play from Graf (days shy of her 30th birthday and, as it turned out, on the brink of retirement) and the then-18-year-old’s lack of resolve did Hingis in. When it was over and Graf had won 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, the No. 1 player in the world left the court in tears and returned for the trophy presentation only because she was forced to by her mother and coach, Melanie Molitor.

Now Hingis says she barely remembers what happened in Paris (yeah, right). And as she snuggles into an oversize couch in the back corner of a cocktail lounge in Indian Wells, Calif., during the Newsweek Champions Cup, she says her biggest problem is having to dress in an Adidas track suit for a European TV interview instead of being free to indulge her whimsical fashion sense. As always, Hingis is congenial and forthcoming, and she laughs a lot. Just like Chatty Cathy.

Tennis:How do you think you’re perceived by tennis fans?
Hingis: In the United States I’m quite OK - I hope, anyway. I think it’s because I brought in the results. It was not only talking, as some other players did. It was always our (Hingis and her mother’s) rule. First show and then talk.

Is it different for you in Switzerland?
Well, maybe at home I don’t have the best image. The press is different in Europe. Here (in the U.S.) you have so many more athletes from different sports. It’s a much bigger business than in Europe. That’s one of the reasons I moved to Florida. Of course, the main reason is the weather and the training. But there’s more jealousy in Switzerland because it’s so little and they don’t have so many athletes. Sometimes I wouldn’t give an interview because I didn’t have the time or something else was more important. So they come up with a story which I don’t think is always true, but they have to sell papers.

At the Australian Open, a lot of people were surprised to hear you say that Davenport has your number. Was that a big admission of you, to say, “You’re better than I am right now?”
It’s true, so it wasn’t that hard for me to accept it. I was nervous going into the final because I know she has beaten me in the past and she’s not afraid of it. I have so much respect for her because of the way she plays. I know I have to be 100 percent, maybe more, to beat her.

Let me read you something Lindsay said the other day. She said, “I’ve always thought that of all the top players, Martina has the best attitude about staying at the top. She’s friendly with all the players and she’s confident, but in her own way, she has fun with it. You can see she loves what she does. I respect her a lot.” What do you make of that?
Oh, that’s great. I always give Lindsay so much credit for her tennis game, for her attitude, for her person, and because of how she deals with all the things. I don’t think people give her enough credit for how well she’s doing.

Are you surprised that your biggest rival would speak so highly of you, both professionally and personally?
Well, in the past you had many players at the top that really didn’t get along with each other. But Lindsay and I just gradually got to the top and then the youngsters came, like Kournikova and the Williams'. Then, when Lindsay and I would get to the semi-finals, we would be like, “OK, who’s going to beat them?” so we could make the final together. (Lindsay and I) are not such a rivalry. Of course, when we play each other, we both want to win. We have shown that in the past, and it’s going to be like that in the future.

What about Venus and Serena? At the moment, they don’t seem as dedicated to the sport.
Serena maybe isn’t showing her best tennis right now. She looked good physically in Australia, but the tennis wasn’t as efficient as when she won the U.S. Open. But I liked that dress. She looked pretty good out on the court. And with the red shoes, too (laughs).

Let’s go back to the beginning. What were you like at the age of 4 or 5? Were you a very stubborn child?
When I was 4 my mother got divorced and we were very close to each other. I always wanted to be with her. She took me everywhere. When she went for dinner with friends or when they had meetings at the tennis club, I was always there. And I had to be quiet if I wanted to stay. A few people would say, “If she’s not going to be a tennis player, she’s going to be a diplomat.” I went to many meetings where there were no other kids. But I always found something to keep me interested. I was always at peace because of the way my mom treated me. She only had me at the time (Molitor would later remarry and re-divorce) and she had the tennis. She had to take care of that. I grew up on the tennis court with lots of other kids. There were like 40 kids all afternoon and I was one of the youngest ones, so I always had to chase everybody to keep up. I was very competitive. I didn’t want to be the worst. I always wanted to be at the top. Whatever I did, I wanted to win. I mean, I think everybody does.

Has your father gone to any of your professional matches?
Yeah, when I played Feb Cup (1997) in Slovakia. (Karol Hingis arrived at the airport, flowers in hand, to greet Martina, and later expressed a desire to coach her; she declined.) I still keep in touch with him on the phone. He is still my father. He is still a person I know I could trust and he would never do anything against me. Once you’re at the top, there are not many people like that. People always want something from you. When someone comes up, you’re already on the defence, like, “What do you want? You want a picture? You want an autograph? Just a question?” You’re already trying to defend yourself.

When you were a kid, did you dream about this life?
I had no idea what life would be like. I just thought of Wimbledon or the French Open, because tennis was so big in the Czech Republic back then. Navratilova, Novotna, Mandlikova, Lendl, they were all heroes. I thought that if they could accomplish something, then I have a chance, too.

Did you have tennis posters hanging on your wall?
Actually, yes, in the bathroom. We had a poster of the Davis Cup in 1986. It was in Prague, the Czech Republic against Sweden, and we went to watch, so I got the poster. You couldn’t get all the posters. You were lucky if you got one.

Where would you be today if you weren’t a tennis player?
I don’t know. I guess I would be a simple girl growing up in Czechoslovakia. I’m not saying I’m something special. I might play a little better tennis than other people, but it is because I was given the chance, and not many people are.

Let’s talk prize money. During the Australian Open, you came out in favour of a boycott if the Grand Slams don’t offer parity to women. Do you still feel that way?
I think the whole boycott thing was a bit too much. It’s because we’re accomplished so much in women’s tennis in the last two, three years. We deserve something better. With little steps we’ve made a lot of improvements. But at one time we had equal prize money at the Australian Open and they took it away. So it’s not fair.

But with so many players and so many different agendas, do you think a boycott could really happen?
The top players talk more now, and we have more meetings. We’re just trying to get things better. But we still need somebody who could make a difference.

Could you?
(Big laugh) I think I could get more involved, but not right now. Maybe later. Right now I’m still too young. I don’t think people would give me the respect. Come on, I’m 19 - how could I be a leader of something? No way.

OK, let’s revisit last year’s French Open, something you may or may not want to think back to.
That’s almost too far away. I don’t remember it.

Oh, I’ll help you remember it.
It’s very emotional for me because the French Open was the first junior tournament I won, and I never thought that it would be the only (French Open championship she’d win).

Is winning the French still your main goal this year?
Any tournament you go to, you want to win it. I don’t know what kind of emotions I’m going to go into the French with. I really don’t know how the public is going to be. I don’t know. I want to leave it as a surprise.

Last year, in the final against Steffi, you were up 6-4, 5-4, 15-0. What happened? Did you get scared?
No, I didn’t get scared. I think I just got a little tired, I guess. The match was already getting a little closer. Up until that time I felt like I had the match under control. That’s why I think I allowed myself to do that thing (crossing the net to contest the call). I felt like, OK, even if something happens, I still have it under control. Maybe I got tired because I was getting closer to fulfilling my dream and that made me a bit nervous. I don’t think I would have crossed that net if I had Known 100 percent what was going on.

Did you feel like you were losing your mind a little bit?
Come on, it was the final of the French Open! I’m sure people were saying, “Hey, what’s going on?” I don’t think it’s losing that mind. It’s just that I felt the disrespect because on clay you have to show the mark. There’s no way you can’t see it. And even from behind the net, I saw Steffi. You can tell from the player’s reaction if it’s in or out. I saw her and I saw that they couldn’t find the mark. Plus, I saw it, so I’m like, “No way!” But, of course, if something like that happened again, I wouldn’t go around the net. I got my lesson. It’s just that, at the moment, to go around and just to show, it was more important to me than losing the point.

You’re very principled, aren’t you?
I am, yeah. That’s how I think. I have my ride. But that was a little bit over the limit (laughs).

Do you have nightmares when you go back and think about that entire French Open Experience?
The next few days, when I realized what happened, I was so disappointed and sad about the whole thing. I was like three points from victory. And, to be honest, I’d rather play Steffi in that final than Monica (Seles, who lost to Graf in the semi-finals)because Steffi’s kind of a legend and I wanted to beat her there. But it didn’t happen; my career goes on.

Have you talked to Steffi about it since then?
(Softly) No, no, There’s not much you can talk about.

She’d probably think it was funny.
If I’d won, I’d laugh, too.

When you returned to the court for the trophy presentation, crying in your mother’s arms, was that the hardest thing you ever had to do on a tennis court?
My mom told me later that she almost started laughing on the court. For her, it wasn’t such a big thing. She saw me as a daughter, and, of course, she felt for me. But she almost started laughing while I was crying. When she told me that, I’m like, “Thanks a lot.”

But how hard was it on you?
To go through that experience, with the crowd booing you, maybe that was the hardest. Not that I lost or anything. Just the crowd.

After the French you went to Wimbledon, but without your mother, and you lost badly in the first round and they media made a big deal about it. But you and your mom didn’t fight, right? In fact, she kissed you good-bye and told you to have a good tournament. Then she went home.
Yeah, that’s true. It wasn’t even a misunderstanding. It was just like, “I want to try and go out on my own.” And why not? Everybody wants to grow up sometime. And you have to experience that maybe it’s not going to work out the way you expected it to. I was so excited. I did the laundry, I did the stringer, I did all the house things. I had my cousin over there; I had a hitting partner, so everything was fine. But then I was out on the court and I felt lost. I never felt lost on the court before because someone wasn’t there, someone who had been there for me all the time. I wanted her there as my mom, no the coach. But it just couldn’t happen that way. She would have to be there to see the things that I’m doing wrong in practice. But probably I had to have this experience.

Do you still do your own laundry?
(Laughs) No. Well, I do put it in the bags and give it to the lady in the locker room. That's it.

Do you want to have kids? If so, what kind of a mother do you think you’ll make?
Of course. Life isn’t only about the career. Everybody has a dream that you want to have a family and a relationship. You want to have someone there for you. At the tournaments, you often feel like you’re lonely or you’re alone in the room. Sometimes it’s not enough having my mom there. Of course, it’s nice and I’m grateful for having that. But once my career is over, I want something more.

You’ve dated several tennis players (Justin Gimelstob, Julian Alonso, Ivo Heuberger, to name three). Do you think you’ll end up marrying a tennis player?
I don’t think so. But when you’re 17 and looking around you think, “Oh, this one is cute.” You can imagine yourself having dinner and maybe that becomes more. And because of the surroundings, those guys are around, so it’s the easiest.

What do you look for in a man?
Definitely respect. Respect for what I am doing and that I have my own career. He has to watch out for me, too. He’s doing his business and I’m doing mine, and if there is time left, then we can be together. He also has to deal with (the fact) that I’m famous, that people are going to come up to me to ask questions or to get an autograph. It might be fun in the beginning, but I’m used to being the centre of attention, so he’ll have to deal with that.

You talked to Chris Evert about this.
Yeah, I did. I asked her how she dealt with being with (former fiancé) Jimmy Connors. She said that it wasn’t easy because they were both very individual and you want to be at the top. If you want to give more credit or more attention to your partner, you’re going to lose yourself. And I don’t want to do that right now. Maybe when my career is over I’ll have more time.

You said at one point that you hated being a teenager, that you learned the word “funk” during this time. Now you’re on the verge of womanhood. Do you like it any better?
I do like it. I always felt that 18 to 25 (years old) would be the best, but any age group is fun. You have to take it that way, that every day is a new day and you want to try and make it better than the last one.

What book is on your night stand right now?
Honestly, I’m more into the computer, the Internet, and checking out scores or the news.

You’re also an excellent doubles player. People don’t give you enough credit for that. Is playing doubles just a fun thing for you?
It’s a lot of fun if I have to great partners like I’ve had in past years with Jana (Novotna) and Helena (Sukova), or now with Mary (Pierce). Even Mirjana (Lucic). Or Natasha (Zvereva). And also Arantxa (Sanchez-Vicario). It seems that anybody who would be on my side would play great tennis.

But you’ve left each one behind, and often with hurt feelings.
Come on! It’s not because they’re left behind. I felt like we didn’t communicate anymore. Or we wouldn’t practice that much. The fire was gone. I was hurt, too, because they didn’t want to do the things to help us get better. Just because we were the best at that time, you still have to keep working.

What’s the best thing about your life right now?
Independence, and security for life. With the money I’ve earned (some $12 million in prize money alone), I’m going to be safe for the rest of my life - if I don’t do something really stupid. And freedom. It’s all got to do with money and the experiences that I’ve made in life. I mean, I’ve seen almost the entire world. And not just the beautiful parts. I went to Nepal with the World Health Organization. And I plan to go to Colombia to see the street children in Bogotá.

Do you ever just sit back and marvel at all you’ve accomplished and where you are today?
Yeah, maybe once a week we (Hingis and her mother) do it. We talk so much, not about what I’ve accomplished, but where I am, what I’m doing. When people ask, “How do you keep yourself motivated?” it’s like, “Look at my life, at the places I play, where I am, how my life is.” How stupid would I be if I wanted to give it up?

So far, what’s your greatest regret?
(Long pause) Well, maybe those two, three weeks last year (at the French Open and Wimbledon). But it was a great experience. I learned a lot. It’s not that I regret it that much or that I think it was the biggest mistake of my life. I don’t think it was such a big thing. It was a big mistake for my image and my career, but not as a learning procedure in life.

Describe an ideal day for you?
A perfect day? Winning the French Open against either Lindsay or one of the Williams sisters. Then doing the picture with the trophy in front of the Sacre Coeur (a cathedral in Paris) in a nice dress. And then going to dinner with my mom, Mario (Widmer, Molitor’s boyfriend), and whoever is there for me at that time. That’s a perfect day.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hingis Wanted To Beat Lindsay or the Sisters @ the FO

Check out the last line. I think Venus misses Martina too.


No More Tears


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When Martina Hingis is bad, she’s very bad. But last year’s cry-fest at the French Open - and the reaction she got from fans - taught her a valuable lesson: A little humility goes a long way.
By Cindy Shmerler-Tennis Magazine-June 2000
If Martina Hingis were a doll, she’d probably be Chatty Cathy, that mid-1960s life-size figure. Pull a string in the middle of her back and Cathy would talk on and on about lots of subjects, all of them sure to make a 5-year-old girl squeal with delight. She’d even throw in a hearty giggle for good measure.

To be sure, Hingis has both the gift of gab and a contagious laugh. Of course, her mouth has also been known to get her into trouble, like the time she referred to Steffi Graf as old and past her prime, or when she called the openly gay Amelie Mauresmo “half a man” at the 1999 Australian Open.

And let’s not forget last year’s French Open.

Playing Graf in the final of the only Grand Slam she has never won, Hingis was leading 6-4, 2-0 and seemed to have the match in hand. Then a Hingis return of serve was called wide. The ruling displeased her, but it was upheld by the chair umpire. What followed will go down as one of the greatest hissy fits in the history of professional tennis. Instead of retreating to her return position, Hingis rounded the net to look at the mark, then launched into a tirade just a few feet away from Graf. An unsportsmanlike-conduct violation not only cost Hingis $1,500, but also turned an already pro-Graf crowd wildly against the Swiss teenager.

Still, Hingis served for the championship at 6-4, 5-4. She led 15-0, but a combination of spectacular play from Graf (days shy of her 30th birthday and, as it turned out, on the brink of retirement) and the then-18-year-old’s lack of resolve did Hingis in. When it was over and Graf had won 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, the No. 1 player in the world left the court in tears and returned for the trophy presentation only because she was forced to by her mother and coach, Melanie Molitor.

Now Hingis says she barely remembers what happened in Paris (yeah, right). And as she snuggles into an oversize couch in the back corner of a cocktail lounge in Indian Wells, Calif., during the Newsweek Champions Cup, she says her biggest problem is having to dress in an Adidas track suit for a European TV interview instead of being free to indulge her whimsical fashion sense. As always, Hingis is congenial and forthcoming, and she laughs a lot. Just like Chatty Cathy.

Tennis:How do you think you’re perceived by tennis fans?
Hingis: In the United States I’m quite OK - I hope, anyway. I think it’s because I brought in the results. It was not only talking, as some other players did. It was always our (Hingis and her mother’s) rule. First show and then talk.

Is it different for you in Switzerland?
Well, maybe at home I don’t have the best image. The press is different in Europe. Here (in the U.S.) you have so many more athletes from different sports. It’s a much bigger business than in Europe. That’s one of the reasons I moved to Florida. Of course, the main reason is the weather and the training. But there’s more jealousy in Switzerland because it’s so little and they don’t have so many athletes. Sometimes I wouldn’t give an interview because I didn’t have the time or something else was more important. So they come up with a story which I don’t think is always true, but they have to sell papers.

At the Australian Open, a lot of people were surprised to hear you say that Davenport has your number. Was that a big admission of you, to say, “You’re better than I am right now?”
It’s true, so it wasn’t that hard for me to accept it. I was nervous going into the final because I know she has beaten me in the past and she’s not afraid of it. I have so much respect for her because of the way she plays. I know I have to be 100 percent, maybe more, to beat her.

Let me read you something Lindsay said the other day. She said, “I’ve always thought that of all the top players, Martina has the best attitude about staying at the top. She’s friendly with all the players and she’s confident, but in her own way, she has fun with it. You can see she loves what she does. I respect her a lot.” What do you make of that?
Oh, that’s great. I always give Lindsay so much credit for her tennis game, for her attitude, for her person, and because of how she deals with all the things. I don’t think people give her enough credit for how well she’s doing.

Are you surprised that your biggest rival would speak so highly of you, both professionally and personally?
Well, in the past you had many players at the top that really didn’t get along with each other. But Lindsay and I just gradually got to the top and then the youngsters came, like Kournikova and the Williams'. Then, when Lindsay and I would get to the semi-finals, we would be like, “OK, who’s going to beat them?” so we could make the final together. (Lindsay and I) are not such a rivalry. Of course, when we play each other, we both want to win. We have shown that in the past, and it’s going to be like that in the future.

What about Venus and Serena? At the moment, they don’t seem as dedicated to the sport.
Serena maybe isn’t showing her best tennis right now. She looked good physically in Australia, but the tennis wasn’t as efficient as when she won the U.S. Open. But I liked that dress. She looked pretty good out on the court. And with the red shoes, too (laughs).

Let’s go back to the beginning. What were you like at the age of 4 or 5? Were you a very stubborn child?
When I was 4 my mother got divorced and we were very close to each other. I always wanted to be with her. She took me everywhere. When she went for dinner with friends or when they had meetings at the tennis club, I was always there. And I had to be quiet if I wanted to stay. A few people would say, “If she’s not going to be a tennis player, she’s going to be a diplomat.” I went to many meetings where there were no other kids. But I always found something to keep me interested. I was always at peace because of the way my mom treated me. She only had me at the time (Molitor would later remarry and re-divorce) and she had the tennis. She had to take care of that. I grew up on the tennis court with lots of other kids. There were like 40 kids all afternoon and I was one of the youngest ones, so I always had to chase everybody to keep up. I was very competitive. I didn’t want to be the worst. I always wanted to be at the top. Whatever I did, I wanted to win. I mean, I think everybody does.

Has your father gone to any of your professional matches?
Yeah, when I played Feb Cup (1997) in Slovakia. (Karol Hingis arrived at the airport, flowers in hand, to greet Martina, and later expressed a desire to coach her; she declined.) I still keep in touch with him on the phone. He is still my father. He is still a person I know I could trust and he would never do anything against me. Once you’re at the top, there are not many people like that. People always want something from you. When someone comes up, you’re already on the defence, like, “What do you want? You want a picture? You want an autograph? Just a question?” You’re already trying to defend yourself.

When you were a kid, did you dream about this life?
I had no idea what life would be like. I just thought of Wimbledon or the French Open, because tennis was so big in the Czech Republic back then. Navratilova, Novotna, Mandlikova, Lendl, they were all heroes. I thought that if they could accomplish something, then I have a chance, too.

Did you have tennis posters hanging on your wall?
Actually, yes, in the bathroom. We had a poster of the Davis Cup in 1986. It was in Prague, the Czech Republic against Sweden, and we went to watch, so I got the poster. You couldn’t get all the posters. You were lucky if you got one.

Where would you be today if you weren’t a tennis player?
I don’t know. I guess I would be a simple girl growing up in Czechoslovakia. I’m not saying I’m something special. I might play a little better tennis than other people, but it is because I was given the chance, and not many people are.

Let’s talk prize money. During the Australian Open, you came out in favour of a boycott if the Grand Slams don’t offer parity to women. Do you still feel that way?
I think the whole boycott thing was a bit too much. It’s because we’re accomplished so much in women’s tennis in the last two, three years. We deserve something better. With little steps we’ve made a lot of improvements. But at one time we had equal prize money at the Australian Open and they took it away. So it’s not fair.

But with so many players and so many different agendas, do you think a boycott could really happen?
The top players talk more now, and we have more meetings. We’re just trying to get things better. But we still need somebody who could make a difference.

Could you?
(Big laugh) I think I could get more involved, but not right now. Maybe later. Right now I’m still too young. I don’t think people would give me the respect. Come on, I’m 19 - how could I be a leader of something? No way.

OK, let’s revisit last year’s French Open, something you may or may not want to think back to.
That’s almost too far away. I don’t remember it.

Oh, I’ll help you remember it.
It’s very emotional for me because the French Open was the first junior tournament I won, and I never thought that it would be the only (French Open championship she’d win).

Is winning the French still your main goal this year?
Any tournament you go to, you want to win it. I don’t know what kind of emotions I’m going to go into the French with. I really don’t know how the public is going to be. I don’t know. I want to leave it as a surprise.

Last year, in the final against Steffi, you were up 6-4, 5-4, 15-0. What happened? Did you get scared?
No, I didn’t get scared. I think I just got a little tired, I guess. The match was already getting a little closer. Up until that time I felt like I had the match under control. That’s why I think I allowed myself to do that thing (crossing the net to contest the call). I felt like, OK, even if something happens, I still have it under control. Maybe I got tired because I was getting closer to fulfilling my dream and that made me a bit nervous. I don’t think I would have crossed that net if I had Known 100 percent what was going on.

Did you feel like you were losing your mind a little bit?
Come on, it was the final of the French Open! I’m sure people were saying, “Hey, what’s going on?” I don’t think it’s losing that mind. It’s just that I felt the disrespect because on clay you have to show the mark. There’s no way you can’t see it. And even from behind the net, I saw Steffi. You can tell from the player’s reaction if it’s in or out. I saw her and I saw that they couldn’t find the mark. Plus, I saw it, so I’m like, “No way!” But, of course, if something like that happened again, I wouldn’t go around the net. I got my lesson. It’s just that, at the moment, to go around and just to show, it was more important to me than losing the point.

You’re very principled, aren’t you?
I am, yeah. That’s how I think. I have my ride. But that was a little bit over the limit (laughs).

Do you have nightmares when you go back and think about that entire French Open Experience?
The next few days, when I realized what happened, I was so disappointed and sad about the whole thing. I was like three points from victory. And, to be honest, I’d rather play Steffi in that final than Monica (Seles, who lost to Graf in the semi-finals)because Steffi’s kind of a legend and I wanted to beat her there. But it didn’t happen; my career goes on.

Have you talked to Steffi about it since then?
(Softly) No, no, There’s not much you can talk about.

She’d probably think it was funny.
If I’d won, I’d laugh, too.

When you returned to the court for the trophy presentation, crying in your mother’s arms, was that the hardest thing you ever had to do on a tennis court?
My mom told me later that she almost started laughing on the court. For her, it wasn’t such a big thing. She saw me as a daughter, and, of course, she felt for me. But she almost started laughing while I was crying. When she told me that, I’m like, “Thanks a lot.”

But how hard was it on you?
To go through that experience, with the crowd booing you, maybe that was the hardest. Not that I lost or anything. Just the crowd.

After the French you went to Wimbledon, but without your mother, and you lost badly in the first round and they media made a big deal about it. But you and your mom didn’t fight, right? In fact, she kissed you good-bye and told you to have a good tournament. Then she went home.
Yeah, that’s true. It wasn’t even a misunderstanding. It was just like, “I want to try and go out on my own.” And why not? Everybody wants to grow up sometime. And you have to experience that maybe it’s not going to work out the way you expected it to. I was so excited. I did the laundry, I did the stringer, I did all the house things. I had my cousin over there; I had a hitting partner, so everything was fine. But then I was out on the court and I felt lost. I never felt lost on the court before because someone wasn’t there, someone who had been there for me all the time. I wanted her there as my mom, no the coach. But it just couldn’t happen that way. She would have to be there to see the things that I’m doing wrong in practice. But probably I had to have this experience.

Do you still do your own laundry?
(Laughs) No. Well, I do put it in the bags and give it to the lady in the locker room. That's it.

Do you want to have kids? If so, what kind of a mother do you think you’ll make?
Of course. Life isn’t only about the career. Everybody has a dream that you want to have a family and a relationship. You want to have someone there for you. At the tournaments, you often feel like you’re lonely or you’re alone in the room. Sometimes it’s not enough having my mom there. Of course, it’s nice and I’m grateful for having that. But once my career is over, I want something more.

You’ve dated several tennis players (Justin Gimelstob, Julian Alonso, Ivo Heuberger, to name three). Do you think you’ll end up marrying a tennis player?
I don’t think so. But when you’re 17 and looking around you think, “Oh, this one is cute.” You can imagine yourself having dinner and maybe that becomes more. And because of the surroundings, those guys are around, so it’s the easiest.

What do you look for in a man?
Definitely respect. Respect for what I am doing and that I have my own career. He has to watch out for me, too. He’s doing his business and I’m doing mine, and if there is time left, then we can be together. He also has to deal with (the fact) that I’m famous, that people are going to come up to me to ask questions or to get an autograph. It might be fun in the beginning, but I’m used to being the centre of attention, so he’ll have to deal with that.

You talked to Chris Evert about this.
Yeah, I did. I asked her how she dealt with being with (former fiancé) Jimmy Connors. She said that it wasn’t easy because they were both very individual and you want to be at the top. If you want to give more credit or more attention to your partner, you’re going to lose yourself. And I don’t want to do that right now. Maybe when my career is over I’ll have more time.

You said at one point that you hated being a teenager, that you learned the word “funk” during this time. Now you’re on the verge of womanhood. Do you like it any better?
I do like it. I always felt that 18 to 25 (years old) would be the best, but any age group is fun. You have to take it that way, that every day is a new day and you want to try and make it better than the last one.

What book is on your night stand right now?
Honestly, I’m more into the computer, the Internet, and checking out scores or the news.

You’re also an excellent doubles player. People don’t give you enough credit for that. Is playing doubles just a fun thing for you?
It’s a lot of fun if I have to great partners like I’ve had in past years with Jana (Novotna) and Helena (Sukova), or now with Mary (Pierce). Even Mirjana (Lucic). Or Natasha (Zvereva). And also Arantxa (Sanchez-Vicario). It seems that anybody who would be on my side would play great tennis.

But you’ve left each one behind, and often with hurt feelings.
Come on! It’s not because they’re left behind. I felt like we didn’t communicate anymore. Or we wouldn’t practice that much. The fire was gone. I was hurt, too, because they didn’t want to do the things to help us get better. Just because we were the best at that time, you still have to keep working.

What’s the best thing about your life right now?
Independence, and security for life. With the money I’ve earned (some $12 million in prize money alone), I’m going to be safe for the rest of my life - if I don’t do something really stupid. And freedom. It’s all got to do with money and the experiences that I’ve made in life. I mean, I’ve seen almost the entire world. And not just the beautiful parts. I went to Nepal with the World Health Organization. And I plan to go to Colombia to see the street children in Bogotá.

Do you ever just sit back and marvel at all you’ve accomplished and where you are today?
Yeah, maybe once a week we (Hingis and her mother) do it. We talk so much, not about what I’ve accomplished, but where I am, what I’m doing. When people ask, “How do you keep yourself motivated?” it’s like, “Look at my life, at the places I play, where I am, how my life is.” How stupid would I be if I wanted to give it up?

So far, what’s your greatest regret?
(Long pause) Well, maybe those two, three weeks last year (at the French Open and Wimbledon). But it was a great experience. I learned a lot. It’s not that I regret it that much or that I think it was the biggest mistake of my life. I don’t think it was such a big thing. It was a big mistake for my image and my career, but not as a learning procedure in life.

Describe an ideal day for you?
A perfect day? Winning the French Open against either Lindsay or one of the Williams sisters. Then doing the picture with the trophy in front of the Sacre Coeur (a cathedral in Paris) in a nice dress. And then going to dinner with my mom, Mario (Widmer, Molitor’s boyfriend), and whoever is there for me at that time. That’s a perfect day.
 
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