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Hingis says comeback uncertain

16/01/2003 06:03:43 AM Comments (0)

Former World number one Martina Hingis says she may never play competitive tennis again because of persistent foot problems.

"It is quite possible that that I will never play top-level tennis again. Because my feet don't allow it," Hingis told the Swiss sports news agency Sport Information (SI) in an interview published on Wednesday.

Asked if she had a comeback plan, Hingis replied: "No."

"I am not even thinking of a comeback," she told SI.

Winner of five Grand Slam titles, Hingis spent a total of 209 weeks as No. 1 in the world.

She had an operation on her right ankle in October 2001 and on her left ankle in May 2002. She's been sidelined 10 of the last 16 months.

Hingis said that she had been playing recreational tennis over the last two months, but that as soon as she starts practicing under competition conditions, the pain spreads through her feet and ankles.

"Tennis was and remains my passion. But I've also grasped that after eight years on the tour, I will only return if I can practice without pain," Hingis said. "Competition is no fun if you can't come in perfectly prepared."

Hingis said she was watching the Australian Open on television and said "it was fun watching the others run around in the heat."

She said WTA Tour leaders should realize that the crowded schedule was threatening the health of top players.

"If a player is at the top and always plays until the end of the tournaments, she's sacrificing her health to the tour quite quickly," she said.

In six straight appearances in the final in Melbourne between 1997 and 2002, Hingis swept the title the first three times. She also won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1997 and had she not lost to Iva Majoli in the French Open final, she would have achieved a rare Grand Slam.

She was only 16 years, three months old when she won her first Australian Open, becoming the youngest Grand Slam singles champion of the 20th century.

Hingis, 22, was born in Kosice, in what is now Slovakia, and later became a Swiss citizen.

She won 40 singles titles on the WTA Tour, plus 36 doubles titles, including nine at Grand Slam tournaments, and made more than US$18 million in career earnings.

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