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Last Updated: Friday, 2 November 2007, 15:15 GMT
Hingis leaves under a cloud
By Piers Newbery

If the news that Martina Hingis was retiring did not come as a great surprise, the revelation that she had tested positive for cocaine sent shockwaves through the tennis world.

Martina Hingis
Hingis returned to tennis full-time after three years away in 2006

That a 27-year-old with injury problems and a glorious past behind her had decided to quit was not out of the ordinary; that such a consummate professional would test positive for a recreational drug certainly was.

Hingis insists she has never taken drugs and so there are still plenty of questions to be answered but we are not likely to get them any time soon, with the date of a future tribunal some way off.

Indeed, the major tennis organisations have been as surprised as the rest of us by Hingis's revelation.

Calls to the WTA, the ITF and the Swiss federation on Friday were all unproductive as everyone waits for the drug-testing laboratory to make its findings official.

Hingis certainly looked to have gone as far as she could in her second life as a tennis player, having returned to full-time action at the start of 2006 and confounded many by winning three titles and getting back into the world's top 10.

There were enough victories and flashes of brilliance to remind everyone just how special a player she was in her prime. Even in a sport well used to prodigies, Hingis was something special.

The youngest player to win a Grand Slam match, aged 14, at the 1995 Australian Open; five Grand Slam titles including three in a stunning 1997; 43 titles and 80 consecutive weeks at number one.

I'm very shocked to hear this - of all the people in the tennis world, she is the most professional

Former British number one Annabel Croft

There was plenty more and all achieved with a slender frame but a mighty tennis brain.

She was no shrinking violet either, going through all the emotions on court and speaking her mind off it. That continued to the last with a long, heartfelt and forthright statement on her retirement.

Hingis was not the first teenage prodigy to arrive on the scene seemingly invincible, only to bow out under a cloud years later.

But this time we are left in limbo, unsure whether to commiserate with a worn out champion, celebrate one of the all-time great careers, or to cast aside the achievements of just the latest athlete to test positive.

As Annabel Croft told 5 Live: "I'm very shocked to hear this - of all the people in the tennis world, she is the most professional.

"She looked after herself 100% - she was out for three years and got back into the top 10 very quickly. She really likes life away from court and really enjoyed herself away from the game.

"But her motivation has slipped a bit because when she came back she wanted to win Grand Slam titles.

"This would be a sad way for her to end her career."

SEE ALSO
Hingis pulls out of French Open
16 May 07 |  Tennis
Hingis quits tennis
07 Feb 03 |  Tennis
Rusedski cleared
10 Mar 04 |  Tennis


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