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"Shoes forced her to withdraw from several tournaments"
 real 14k

Monday, 11 June, 2001, 23:42 GMT 00:42 UK
Hingis sues sportswear company
Martina Hingis
Hingis wearing Sergio Tacchini kit in 1998
Women's world number one Martina Hingis has filed a $40m lawsuit against an Italian sportswear manufacturer claiming that they gave her shoes that injured her feet.

The 20-year-old Swiss says in court papers filed in New York that in tournaments from 1996 into 1999 Sergio Tacchini outfitted her with "defective" shoes which were "unsuitable for competition".

This forced her to withdraw from several tournaments, the court papers say.

Hingis wore Sergio Tacchini clothing as part of a five-year endorsement deal that was to pay her $5.6m.

She was forced to receive treatments for her foot injuries at nine separate tournaments
  Lawsuit filed by Martina Hingis

While competing in the US Open in New York City in September 1998, Hingis sustained a debilitating foot injury, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan's state Supreme Court.

Hingis had her feet examined by a Manhattan doctor, "who confirmed that the injury was a chronic one and was being caused by the tennis shoes manufactured by the defendant Sergio Tacchini," the papers say.

"The shoes were defectively designed and manufactured and therefore were not providing Hingis with the support necessary to play competitive tennis."

In October 1998, Hingis withdrew from tennis tournaments in Filderstadt, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland.

That same month, she had her feet examined by an orthopedic specialist - recommended by Tacchini - in Milan, Italy.

The doctor recommended that Tacchini modify Hingis' shoes, but the company, which has headquarters in Novara, Italy, failed to do so, court papers say.


Meanwhile, from October 1998 to June 1999, the lawsuit says, Hingis' feet kept hurting.

"She was forced to receive treatments for her foot injuries at nine separate tournaments in Manhattan, Philadelphia, California and South Carolina," according to the lawsuit.

"Hingis also withdrew from the Wimbledon doubles tournament in June 1999 because of her injured feet."

Then, in a letter dated 23 April, 1999, Tacchini fired Hingis as a spokeswoman.

'Image damage'

Court papers said the company "erroneously" claimed she had breached their contract by failing to wear a Tacchini hat at a tournament and other Tacchini tennis clothing at a charity event.

In a press release that Hingis' court papers called "false and defamatory", company chairman Sergio Tacchini explained why she was dropped.

"She damaged our image and our products because of her behavior and extremely discrediting statements concerning her main sponsor," court papers quote Tacchini as saying

"We could not tolerate this attitude any longer."

There was no listed representative for Tacchini in North America.

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