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Friday, 7 February, 2003, 10:56 GMT
Was Hingis pushed too hard?
Have Your Say: Was Martina Hingis made to play too hard as a junior
Injury forces former world number one Martina Hingis to retire from top-flight tennis.

Is the current tennis tour too hard on young players?


Hingis announced her retirement from top-flight tennis on Friday.

The 22-year-old who topped the world rankings for four consecutive years, revealed she has lost her battle against severe ankle problems.

Hingis has not won a Grand Slam for nearly three years and in October she slipped out of the world top 10 for the first time in six years.

A child prodigy, she won the Australian Open aged just 16 years and three months, but her mother was criticised for forcing her to play too much at an early age.

Did Hingis break into the tennis world too early?


This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appear below.


Hingis was a great player who was beaten by stronger girls with less ability. Disillusionment rather than burnout had more to do with it.
Graham Jubb, UK

Martina is the greatest player in tennis, but to me she can't play tennis any longer. The injury to the ankle can't allow her to play well. So I think it is good that she has retired, and I'm sure you will be happy with the titles she has got.
Fonebi Alphonse Niba, Cameroon

I am a lover of finesse and beauty in every sport. Hingis spoiled us with a lot of that, and we are grateful. As an old football player full of tricks and finesse, I also know that without a very good physical condition, one cannot perform.

Finesse such as Martina's now counts for nothing

James Taylor, Canada

What bothers me is that no one really talks about Hingis' commitment to tennis or to the tour. This would have been the reaction if, for some reason, either of the Williams sisters, because they could not win any more, decided to quit the tour arguing that they were injured.
Simon Akindes, USA

I am extremely disappointed at Martina's retirement at such an early age, but unfortunately tennis in both the men's and women's game has become all about power.

Finesse such as Martina's now counts for nothing. If you are strong and powerful with a very strong service game, that's all that matters, very much to the detriment of the sport.

I have followed all the great players over the years but now don't even bother to watch as it is just a serve and volley game.
James Taylor, Canada

Hingis beat the Williams sisters so many times. I do not have the stats but I do not seriously think that's the reason for her retirement.

Serena has admitted that there is a lot of pressure these days from upcoming young players. Tennis has changed like any other sport is changing.

Hingis was beaten in the last few years by other players besides the William sisters; eg Capriati beat her twice to win the Australian Open.

Martina Hingis was the greatest player to watch in the game of tennis

David Hill, UK

I remember in 2001 Hingis beat Serena and then went on to beat Venus. I think the pressure is the reason. In the old days there were few up-and-coming players but these days young girls are driven to succeed, thereby placing a lot of pressure on the top ranked players.

These days tennis is power and I enjoy it but I know in a few years time there will be other tactics - which makes it interesting not boring. Change is good and healthy.
Doris Mapokodo, Zimbabwe

Martina Hingis was the greatest player to watch in the game of tennis, men's and women's. To suggest she would never have won another Grand Slam is ridiculous.

The Williams sisters are the best and they have improved since the years when Hingis won her slams but Serena has only just equalled Martina's number of slams.

She was far less effective against medium quality opponents, who the Williams sisters seem to walk over, but she could compete. She would have won last year's Australian Open had it not been for the heat and anyone who remembers the quarter-final between her and Venus in 2000 knows it could have gone either way.

This is a tragedy which has robbed us of many great matches, if only because Hingis' style makes for a better match against Serena than Venus'.
David Hill, UK

I am deeply saddened by the condition of Martina Hingis' ankle. I have the conviction that she will be able to come back from injury with hard work and the right frame of mind.

Retiring at this young age will deprive the world of some spectacular tennis. I belief young tennis stars of Martina's calibre are pushed so hard by busy schedules to play in all tournaments.

It is my deep-seated desire that Hingis returns to the court one day to continue her legacy
Richard Gyasi, Ghanaian in USA

Hingis was a mediocre player who came at the right time. Graf was on her way out and the Williams sisters didn't play full time on the tour. Even when Davenport lost weight and got fitter she couldn't beat her. Capriati also had her number; she couldn't close out the match several times.

Hingis is a fraud. The people heaping all this praise likes frilly tennis, or marshmallow sport in general. Martina Navratilova and Graf exposed tennis as a tea party sport that lacked true athleticism. The players now are true athletes.
Terrence Durity, USA

I have followed the responses and it is quite amazing that about 80% of them attribute Hingis' retirement to the Williams sisters. I mean, come on!
Marea, Botswana

Hingis spent too much energy trying to cling to the number-one spot

Mac Maqubela, Canada

Such a pity to see a talent like Martina's leave the arena. What makes the tragedy even greater is the fact that her game was actually starting to mature as was her attitude on court.
Darab Khan, UK

It is indeed rather sad to see Martina Hingis hobble out of tennis, especially when the person she was named after, Martina Navratilova, is on the comeback trail at the age of 46, and winning major titles (Australian Mixed Doubles).

I'm sure Hingis could come back when fully fit, and increase the number of doubles titles she has won, but I do not think she, nor Navratilova, would ever win another major singles title. Despite her tremendous ability, the power game of today would see Hingis off the court.

If I was in her shoes now, I would be very happy that I was the best player in the world for four years, and go on now to my best in some other field, and perhaps even become the best at that.
John Fraser, Scotland

Two contributory factors to Hingis' early retirement come to mind: one, is her failure to adapt her game to the changing style of women's tennis. Perhaps, the Williams will also suffer the same fate if they too fail to adapt as the game changes.

Two, Hingis spent too much energy trying to cling to the number-one spot in women's world rankings by playing in many tournaments that were, quite frankly, third rate and not worth a player of her standard. The matches may have been easy and the opposition weak, but her frequent appearances took their toll on her young body.
Mac Maqubela, Canada

I don't think that Martina played tennis too early. I think that - as a smaller player - playing top-class tennis against women built better then most men was just too much strain.
Mal Walker, Australia

Being young does not help as the body has not matured

Matthew, United Kingdom

What has sport come to when a 22-year-old champion announces retirement? Hingis' body has obviously taken too much too soon. The WTA tour has to take a certain amount of blame for this, for allowing such young players to play so many tournaments!

Although, I don't think anyone could have really stopped this magician from weaving her magic on the court. She really was something! Martina Hingis was tennis, and tennis was Martina Hingis!
Shanan Pen, England, UK

All this talk again of too much too early: Maybe there is some truth in it, but generally there is not too much tennis in the calender.

Jimmy Connors won 109 professional singles titles over 20 years, played a lot more tennis, played harder than anyone today and hardly ever got injured. The reason why? his body could take it. No-one is the same, all these players are made different, so the rule of probabilities will take its toll on any random player.

Being young does not help as the body has not matured, but every player has a brain that can decide whether they are playing too much too early. It's up to the player to decide when and where they play.
Matthew, United Kingdom

Yes, the tour is hard but thats what being a professional sports person is about. Being able to play the tour at the highest level is what being the elite players requires.

Hingis will be missed but I feel she could return if her attitude was right. Other players in the past have battled back from setbacks to reach the top - Seles and Capriati spring to mind.
Gene , England

Hingis made me love tennis, she is the most talented player I even seen.

I wish all the luck in the world to her, and deeply hope that she will come back, and play professional tennis again.
Panote, Thailand

Martina's retirement is a tragic loss to the game of tennis

Richard McIntosh, Leeds, England

Was Hingis pushed too hard? Perhaps, but at the end of the day she is happy and is grateful for all that tennis has given her. Surely that says it all!

Thanks for everything that you have given to tennis, Martina and enjoy the rest of your life.
Emily, Ireland

I would suggest that she was pushed too hard, too early and as a result her body is showing signs of stress failure.

Now she has been forced to take time out to recover, she has discovered that there are other things in life than tennis.

She will recover eventually, but her ankles will always be a weakness - like knees, they never recover fully. Rather than push herself to more injuries she has decided to end her tennis career while she is still young enough to go on to something else
Andrew, England

Martina's retirement is a tragic loss to the game of tennis.

For four years she was the best player in the world - and by far the most entertaining to watch.

Her achievements in the game are strengthened by the fact she was not a 6 ft plus powerhouse - but an ordinary girl with an extraordinary ability.

Congratulations on a wonderful career, Martina. You have achieved 'all time great' status - but I hope you return one day to entertain us once more. You will be enormously missed.
Richard McIntosh, Leeds, England

It wasn't that Hingis started too early... it's all about technology.

Bring back the wooden racket, or at least smaller rackets and we may once again see players who can use tactics and intelligence to win matches and be a force in world tennis.

Tennis is just going to become a slug-fest of aces and bashes

Craig, Australia

The power rackets have to be partially to blame for the demise of Hingis. She was just blasted off the court in recent times by just about anyone who could throttle the ball. Forget about skill. Just slash away and get a few in and you can be a world champion. And everyone plays with a similar style now.

Restrict the technology and there may be a slim chance to see some stylists again grace the courts. Otherwise tennis is just going to become a slug-fest of aces and bashes. Thank the lord there are a few guys that can use guile and cunning and compete at the uppermost level ie. Hewitt & Agassi...
Craig, Australia

Is there too much pressure on young players? Of course, but it's not the ITF's fault; people will always push themselves and others further to be the best.

The only way to change this is to see that, in the long run, it is in a player's' interest not to push too hard too young.
Matthew Jones, England

The two words that caused early retirement, Williams and Williams
John Smith, England

Hingis has much more natural talent than the Williams sisters or Steffi Graf for example. If her desire to win matched her natural talent, she could have been one of the greats. If she wanted to fight her injury problems she could come back eventually.
Jamie, England

Players are put under too much pressure at a young age

Iain, UK
I'm sorry that Martina has retired. She was a brilliant competitor and her wonderful play will be sorely missed in this age of power tennis dominating.

She deserves her place with the greats and we will miss her in more ways than one!
Stephen Horrocks, England

Yes, it is. Players are put under too much pressure at a young age, when they are physically incapable of coping.
Kevin, Holland

Sorry to see Martina go! She is a wonderful tennis player and could have gone on to rival the greatness of Graf and Navratilova had her health been better.
Iain, UK

Martina has achieved more in such a short space of time than most tennis players manage in their whole careers, and retires at 22 with more money than she will ever need, poor girl.
Steve Batka, Australia

Of course Martina was pushed too hard

Robert Yellin, Japan
Martina Hingis is probably the last of what can be called the great all round women champions of old.

The modern women's game is now just dominated by power. The Williams sisters bulge with muscles, and even Capriati has arms that are bigger than my legs.

Even if Hingis could get back to her best, she could never compete against the power in the modern game. I think deep down she probably knows that and wants to bow out with her head help high
Danny, England

We had all these arguments before years ago with Andrea Jaeger, Tracy Austin and co. They raised the minimum age from 14 to 16 on the WTA tour, but ultimately there still will be casualties. It appears Hingis is one of them.

She will be missed because what she lacked in power, she made up with her court awareness and speed. Obviously this still wasn't enough to compete with the Williams sisters.
Jason, UK

Of course Martina was pushed too hard. How could one not be at such a young age? But what a game!

She was great when she was on but that French final with Graf was pathetic. Still, a great loss to women's tennis if she does bow out, would have been nice to see her leave lifting a trophy.
Robert Yellin, Japan

Martina Hingis is perhaps the most skilful and tactically astute player ever to play the game and she will be missed. But it doesn't matter how good your tactics are right now.

If you can't out hit the Williams you just don't stand a chance. Women's tennis is becoming boring. A bit like the men's game when it was all about the big servers. Thank goodness for Agassi and Hewitt. I'm sure the tide will turn again and hopefully soon enough to get her back on the court.
Tracey Wilson, UK

Crying shame, another victory for the power game.
Stu, UK

The first victim of the "Williams takeover"?

Sanjeev Fernando, Sri Lanka
I'm sorry to hear that Martina has retired. Her tactical style of play (and her femininity - dare I say!) were a breath of fresh air in this era of big-hitters, but you have to feel that, with Serena Williams and co, the top level of pro tennis has been raised quite considerably since her lengthy absence from the game with her injured ankle.

It really was asking quite a lot of her to come back and re-establish herself back in the elite. She has always had a good head on her shoulders and I trust she'll have a great future ahead.
Saffy, UK

Overall I think it's pity for the game. There is already an all too apparent lack of depth in the women's game. Martina never really relied on power hitting but more finesse and timing. These qualities are becoming sadly rarer in today's game.
Angelo Iuliano, England, Europe

According to her doctor "a comeback would be no problem, but Martina would have to grit her teeth and be prepared for some pain." So she clearly could have returned to tennis. However her decision to quit seems more to do with the fear of pain that is inflicted from the other end of the court than anything from her end. The first victim of the "Williams takeover"?
Sanjeev Fernando, Sri Lanka

It is clear to me at least that her retirement is the result of too much tennis and a pushy mother. I find it quite sad that such a talent has had to quit the game, but as she says life must go on and I honestly believe that if the Williams sisters weren't around she would give it another go. But she is a multi-millionaire and can live comfortably for the rest of her life.

My last thought is one of happiness though, it's a good job Kournikova gets knocked out early in most tournaments - we wouldn't want to see her having to retire due to too much tennis!
Stephen Dean, England

I think it is a bit too young to retire at only 22, but she has thoroughly entertained throughout her career. Maybe her mum did push her into it too early, but she was good enough so why not? Good luck Martina. You're a real star; you can pop round to mine for a cup of tea anytime!
Ant Burns, St Helens, UK

I will really miss Hingis. I had hoped perhaps she could have recovered well and returned to give Serena some kind of a challenge.

You have been a princess that I come to appreciate. Like everything in life, there is time to step down. Please Martina, I hope you do not allow the press to drag you into criticizing or comparing yourself to our reigning Princess, Serena. Her reign will one day also come to an end.
Donald Masekenuba, Bahamas

The 'Swiss Miss' will be missed

Ray, Hong Kong

It takes great courage for an athlete to stop doing what they love instead of continuing to wreck your body. I don't believe Hingis has ever given anything but 100%, and fashion? Surely you're confusing her with Anna Kournikova.

More serious is the fact that the ATP tour might well be too heavy nowadays. Surely it's no coincidence that both men and women players have voiced this complaint recently?
Gerrit-Jan van der Bent, Netherlands

She has done the right thing, it's all about being muscle bound these days. The Williams sisters will dominate the sport for as long as they wish to play, whether this is good for tennis, who can say?

They have taken the women's game to another level and I guess Hingis knows this and has decided there is more to life than a two horse race...good for her, it's not like she needs the money or the stress!
Andy, UK

Maybe Sam (below) is correct in guessing that Hingis is not motivated to put in the extra effort or in other words looking for an easier career. But for the many of us that have no clue of what it takes to compete at world class level, I suggest that we give Hingis any benefit of doubt. She surely knows her capability better than anyone else. The 'Swiss Miss' will be missed.
Ray, Hong Kong

It's so sad that injury is robbing the sport of one of the most intelligent tennis player. What she lacked in mobility she made up for in her ability to read her opponent's game.

I think Martina is retiring not because of the injury but because she is a perfectionist who can not even entertain the thought of been an underdog whenever she plays any of the top five players. I also think that the Williams sisters' domination of the sports contributed to this premature retirement.

Hingis has taken the right decision to quit now

Jim Edstein, Taiwan

All in all I think she has contributed tremendously to the sport, and those of us who enjoyed watching her will miss her a great deal. All the best for now, but I have a feeling that we have not seen the last of her yet.
James Olayinka, UK

I have had reconstructive surgery on my knees four times thanks to playing rugby. I played club level until 28. I love sports but there is always a time to stop.

Unlike other sports stars that play on and on before fading away Hingis has taken the right decision to quit now. She has reached the pinnacle of tennis and at 22 there is more to life than banging a little ball around a court.
Jim Edstein, Taiwan

The tour is to long - at this rate Jennifer Capriati will be next.
Genebat, USA

Regardless of Hingis' reasons for retiring, I think it's a great loss to the sport as she was a great player with an abundance of skill and smart mental awareness.

I just hope that someone can prove to be a proper match for the Williams sisters, such as Justin Henin, who is a brilliant player but she lacks the power to seriously trouble them. If they continue to dominate, then people will become bored with women's tennis and that should not happen.
Andrew, Northern Ireland

I wonder about her temperament

Sam Le S, UK

Hingis was a good player and the game will miss her. It would have been interesting to say how she would have handled the Williams if she was 100%. She is still young and can pursue another career. Good luck to her.
Annette, UK

Hingis had a huge mountain to climb mentally, as her French Open charade with Steffi Graff showed. But she was physically fine, and I can only imagine she's been pushed and pushed so hard by her ever-present mother that either the ankle has gone, or she's lost her natural zest for the sport.

There were repeated concerns during her younger years that her mother had taken away the self-progression and childhood a girl of that age deserved, instead running the whole show. Perhaps now those claims have founding...
Andy, Nottm., UK

It's easy to criticise Martina for lack of effort, but by the age of 22 she has already endured more than most in a full career, and spending four years at number one could only have been achieved with supreme sacrifice.

Maybe her temperament is suspect, but I hope she is remembered for the champion high quality of her stroke play, which was a joy to watch. Success with whatever you turn your hand to next Martina!
Ben Cocker, England

I wonder about her temperament. She was still healthy enough to maintain a top 10 position despite her ankle; perhaps the real reason is that she wasn't willing to work the extra effort it takes to move into the top three?

Perhaps the retirement has less to do with her athleticism and more to do with wanting an easier career - like fashion?
Sam Le S, UK

See also:

19 Jan 03 | 2003
10 Dec 02 | Tennis
27 Nov 02 | Tennis
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