Times were pretty sweet in 1998 when she ran through the calendar year winning the four Grand Slams in doubles, but Martina Hingis has reinvented herself 15 years later—causing a buzz as only she is capable of doing.
The "Swiss Miss" piggybacked her Hall of Fame induction earlier this month with her second straight Mylan World Team Tennis Female MVP award Sunday night, as she helped lead her Washington Kastles to their third straight Championship.
"Coming in here [at the start of the season], there was a lot of pressure in those first matches," said the 2013 Hall of Fame inductee. "You don’t want to be the one to destroy them," Hingis said referencing the Kastles' quest for the longest winning streak in U.S. pro sports history.
The 32-year-old MVP in fact propelled Washington to reach 34-straight victories this season, eclipsing the Los Angeles Lakers 33-straight wins.
Hingis added, “Here [Washington D.C.] everyone is on your side. I am a first time Kastle. It's a great team. I love everyone and I hope I can play here again next year.”
"Now at the end, all of the effort paid off,” she said Sunday night after another successful WTT season in the books.
The real payoff for Hingis will come tomorrow night in Carlsbad, CA when she makes her WTA doubles debut at the Southern California Open alongside partner Daniela Hantuchova.
As she had told an aging tennis fan about a week ago, "I was thinking about it [WTA comeback] the past five years. I never really had the courage until now. I've been playing a lot more, and it's a good time to do it after playing TeamTennis."
Thanks to the wild card invitation extended to Hingis, she and long-time friend Hantuchova will encounter their first test together against the doubles team Julia Goerges and Darija Jurak.
Following Carlsbad, the Slovakian pairing is scheduled to play in four more WTA tournaments; Toronto, Ohio, New Haven and the United States Open.
Hingis may have already passed the hardest test that will come her way—the barely retired serving prowess of Andy Roddick.
After her Kastles defeated Roddick's Springfield Lasers 25-12 for the 2013 WTT title, she modestly talked about returning his serve.
“Never really played him before. I know his serve is spectacular. I tried not to think too much about it. At first he started with a kick serve. I just tried to get a racquet on it.”
Roddick, however, was a lot less bashful talking about Hingis, her abilities and her imminent return to the Pro Tour.
Via The New York Times:
“She has probably the best racket skills of any female player I’ve seen, maybe her and Justine.” Roddick said, referring to the retired Justine Henin. “If she’s playing doubles and the ball comes to her, she doesn’t miss many. She’s going to be the smartest one out there. Yeah, I’m not worried about her chances.”
Hingis hopes to return to the Kastles in 2014, but it's safe to say that she'll hold fans' attention the next couple of months as a threat on the WTA Tour.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.