Martina Hingis, who won five Grand Slam singles titles in the 1990s but has exclusively played doubles the last two years (and no singles on the WTA Tour since 2007), wants to play Fed Cup later this year for the first time since 1998 at least in part because Fed Cup play is mandatory for Rio Olympic eligibility, according to French reports.
Hingis, 34, played in the Olympics once. She was the second-youngest singles player at the Atlanta 1996 Games, behind Anna Kournikova, according to sports-reference.com. Hingis, then 15, lost in the second round in singles in Atlanta but hoped to continue farther in doubles with Patty Schnyder so she could watch equestrian events.
“I have seen the dressage, but I would also like to see the jumping so I hope we can stay one more day,” the Slovakian-born Hingis said in 1996, according to the Independent. “If we lose, I go home.”
The next year, she rattled off her first three major victories — the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. She skipped the Sydney 2000 Olympics to avoid injury risk.
Hingis is currently ranked No. 9 in the world in doubles, key as the rankings determine the Olympic tennis fields. She and Italian partner Flavia Pennetta lost in the third round of the Australian Open. Of course, Hingis would have to play with a Swiss in doubles at the Olympics.
Which raises the 2011 news that Hingis, then retired from WTA Tour play, had been asked by countryman Roger Federer‘s team to consider a comeback. She and Federer discussed playing mixed doubles at the London 2012 Olympics but decided against it. Mixed doubles joined the Olympic program in 2012.
Switzerland did not enter a mixed doubles team in London. Federer and Stan Wawrinka lost in the second round of men’s doubles, after winning gold at Beijing 2008. Federer lost to Andy Murray in the singles final, an Olympic singles gold medal still eluding him.
Hingis eventually did come back to WTA Tour doubles play in 2013.
Unlike Hingis, Federer did play at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, losing to Tommy Haas in the semifinals and Arnaud Di Pasquale in the bronze-medal match at age 19, three years before winning the first of his 17 Grand Slam singles titles.
Photos: Lindsey Vonn, Roger Federer play tennis in the Alps