2017 WTA Finals Singapore: A Word With Martina Hingis
We speak to the highly accomplished 36-year-old who shares her story ahead of her arrival next month.
Martina Hingis together with new partner Chan Yung-Jan were the first doubles pair to qualify for the 2017 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Having made her mark as the youngest ever Grand Slam champion and one of the only players to have been world No. 1 in Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles, we speak to the highly accomplished 36-year-old who shares her story ahead of her arrival next month.
Esquire: Tell us more about how you got started playing tennis, and when did you decide you wanted to pursue the sport at a professional level?
Martina Hingis: My mother was a professional tennis player herself. I started playing when I was 2—that’s what got me started on tennis. Before I could walk, I was already on the tennis court watching my mum train.
Esquire: What were some of the challenges you’ve experienced as a professional tennis player and how did you overcome them?
Martina Hingis: I always enjoy playing tennis. I like the challenge of competing and the adrenaline. The satisfaction when you win.
The biggest challenge is that you are getting older. The recovery time is faster when you’re 17 or 18, but when I came back to tennis, I was 35 already and I had to invest more time to recover my body—now even more so. Sometimes I am excited and I want to do more, but the body says “calm down”.
When you travel, there is the jet lag and the time differences. It always takes a bit of time to adjust to new places. From week to week, it can be different. Fast balls, fast serves and the next day, hard and bouncy—it is all about adjusting to the weekly changes. This is the biggest thing a tennis player has to overcome.
When you win a match, you have a high, but when you lose, you go very low. In sports, you can get from high to low very quickly. I was fortunate enough that I have more highs than lows. It is nice to challenge and push yourself to the next level. I think I can be really proud of my career of the past 23 years.
Esquire: What is your life motto? And how do you live by it?
Martina Hingis: I am generally a positive person. Some people think that when it rains it rains only on them, but I think it is the opposite. At the end of the day, we are lucky to be doing what we do.
In the last 20 years, the prize money has changed and evolved—it has been crazy. The cheque in the US Open amounted to USD3.6 million—you are like “wow”, but you are also spoiled in a way.
You have to sacrifice, but if this is something you enjoy doing, then it is okay.
Esquire: You’ve qualified for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global with a new partner this year, what do you make of your chances and what is the goal coming into the tournament?
Martina Hingis: We kind of expected it, based on the results we had. It was definitely the goal to reach when we started playing together. But after the results we had, it was just a question of time. We both played together twice already. I think this is why we play together and that was something we were playing for. When we made it, it was like, “Okay, tick!”
Esquire: Singapore must be a memorable place for you as it was your last tournament with Sania, what are your bests memories of the WTA Finals Singapore? And what will you be looking forward to the most when you get here?
Martina Hingis: Shopping is nice, but it is very expensive. The hotel is really beautiful—it is one of the best hotels we get to stay in year-round. I think for all the players when we go to Singapore, we feel like we really deserve it there, and they make it special for you. The restaurants, and the pool on top—it is just a nice finish to the year. It’s a nice feeling to have earned it, to be there, to be a part of the WTA Finals. We are the top eight.
Esquire: At the start of the season, was the goal to qualify for the WTA Finals Singapore? What was the strategy which got you here?
Martina Hingis: Since I have been placed with Leticia [Chan], it has been a great journey. Since the beginning, I was in a comfortable and confident place. She definitely helped me a lot to gain my confidence back.
We enjoy spending time on-court and enjoy making it fun. It’s not pure stress. We are really good players, and if we can make the practices fun, time passes by much quicker. That’s the quality that I have.
Leticia’s also a really funny person—I like playing with someone who is optimistic. She hugs me, she’s the engine, sometimes it’s the opposite. When one is down, another comes to help and is the motor, and vice versa. When she’s down I can help and push her.
You go on court and enjoy being out there, not just like “oh my god I have to practise” and “it’s a job”. Sometimes, you have to drill and you don’t like going there. But you can have a good practice, and a good match together.
When we first won the tournament together, we started to believe that we can be the best team in the world, and that definitely helped. After that, it just gets easier mentally and you go to tournaments knowing you can win—that’s the best feeling you can have.
Esquire: At 36, you’re one of the most established players having won titles and reached world No. 1 in Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles. Where do you go from here and what are your plans?
Martina Hingis: I just turned 37. My biological clock is ticking, and that’s definitely something on my agenda.
Esquire: Looking back, what is one thing you’d tell your younger self?
Martina Hingis: It’s different when you used to play Singles and now Doubles. For the past four years, I was able to embark on this journey and enjoy being on the tour, see new places. We travel around the world, behind the sun, so it’s always great weather. There is definitely some tournaments that you look forward to. Most of them are really nice places, we started in Australia, US, Miami then European Tour and French Open and Wimbledon, and now going back to the US. I tell myself, we can consider ourselves really lucky and have a great job. I don’t always enjoy practising, but I enjoy playing matches and competing.
For more information on the 2017 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global premium hospitality programme, visit the Racquet Club section on the 2017 WTA Finals website or email email@example.com for enquiries on the club. Prices include GST and exclude booking fee.