Martina Hingis

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Martina Hingis retires, ending unique Olympic career

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Swiss tennis champion Martina Hingis played at her first Olympics in 1996. She announced her retirement Thursday (for a third time), two months after the demolition began of the Atlanta Games tennis center.

The 37-year-old Hingis went 20 years between Olympic appearances, taking doubles silver in Rio last year.

“I think if you asked me 10 years ago if I would be here in Rio, I would say you’re crazy,” Hingis said at the Rio Games, according to Agence France-Presse. “Because I didn’t play for six years and being able to play for gold is unbelievable.”

Her first Olympics came six months before the first of her five Grand Slam singles titles in the late 1990s.

She was the second-youngest singles player at the Atlanta Games, behind Anna Kournikova. 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.”

Hingis and Schnyder lost in the quarterfinals.

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 missed the 2004 and 2008 Olympics during separate retirements.

Then, in 2011, the still-retired Hingis was 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.

Hingis unretired in 2013, to play doubles, and rose to No. 1 in the world. She won four more Grand Slam doubles titles — giving her 13 total — and six mixed doubles crowns, giving her seven total.

She was to play mixed doubles with Federer at the Rio Olympics until Federer pulled out with a knee injury.

That same week, less than two weeks before the Opening Ceremony, Hingis lost her Olympic doubles partner, Belinda Bencic, to a wrist injury.

Hingis went on to play in Rio with Timea Bacsinszky, losing the final to Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. Hingis was the second-oldest female player in Rio, behind Venus Williams.

Only one female Olympian has gone longer between Olympic appearances than Hingis’ 20-year gap — U.S. equestrian Jessica Newberry-Ransehousen (from 1964 to 1988), according to Olympic historian Bill Mallon of OlympStats.com.

The overall record is held by Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu, who went 44 years from 1964 to 2008.

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Tennis: Russian duo Makarova, Vesnina tops Hingis, Bacsinszky to win gold

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Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova are now Olympic gold medalists.

The Russian pairing beat Swiss duo Timea Bacsinszky and Martina Hingis 6-4, 6-4 to claim women’s doubles gold in Rio on Sunday.

Makarova, 28, is the world’s 30th ranked singles player. Vesnina, 30, is 24th.

WATCH: Full match replay

Makarova and Vesnina won every match they played 2-0, from preliminaries through the final.

The Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova beat countrywomen Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka to claim bronze.

WATCH LIVE: Venus, Murray, Del Potro, Hingis all can win gold

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Three gold medals are coming Sunday in the world of tennis, with women’s doubles, men’s singles, and mixed doubles preparing for the podium.

Mixed doubles gold will kick off the day, with the top honors potentially going to Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram of the United States. Venus is seeking her fifth gold medal, having secured one in singles and three in doubles. If she wins gold, she’ll move ahead of sister Serena for most tennis golds in Olympic history.

It’s Russia and Switzerland dueling in women’s doubles, with Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina across the net from Timea Bacsinszky and Martina Hingis.

Men’s singles sees Andy Murray tangling with Juan Martin Del Potro. After being stuck in an elevator before his first match, JMDP went on to beat Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal en route to his date with the reigning gold medal winner Murray.

WATCH LIVE:

Women’s doubles gold — 1 p.m. EDT

Men’s singles gold — 3 p.m. EDT

Mixed doubles gold — 1 p.m. EDT