Martina Hingis was born in what is now regarded as Slovakia on September 30, 1980. Some time after, her parents divorced and her mother, Melanie Molitor, moved her daughter to Switzerland, her home ever since. Her mother has been the driving force in her life and has served as her only coach throughout her illustrious career.
A fantastic player in her own right, her mother imparted to Martina an uncanny ability to control a match and finish a point with flair and flawless technique. So sure was she that her daughter would become a tennis star, that she named her after the most celebrated female player at the time of her birth, Martina Navratilova. A symbol of tennis dominance and freedom because of her defection to the United States, Navratilova represented the type of player and person Molitor wanted her daughter to become.
By the age of four, Hingis was competing in tournaments and displaying a natural talent to strike the ball. Two years later she was playing against girls over the age of nine. Athletic pursuits were her life at the time, as she would participate in tennis clinics by day, play a soccer game in the evening and then hit more balls at night. Martina also demonstrated a love for horseback riding that has persisted to the present day.
Hingis blitzed through the Swiss ranks as a child, winning a succession of tournaments and becoming the under-18 champion. At the unbelievable age of 12, Martina won the junior French Open and announced her presence to the tennis world. Two years later, she took advantage of the lax age restriction rule on tour and joined as a professional. Her impact was immediate as she began to upset more experienced and older players en route to becoming a dazzling sensation on the court and off. At the end of the year, Hingis cracked the top 100.
Her career since then has been nothing short of spectacular, with five Grand Slam titles and the designation as one of the best doubles players of all time. Before the advent of the power game on the female tour with women like Venus and Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati, Hingis dominated and took over the mantle held high by Steffi Graf as the best in the world.
She has had to fight harder to succeed as of late with increased competition and an injury bug, but her record is intact. With 40 career titles in singles, a slew of doubles triumphs and millions of dollars in prize money, Hingis has an important place in tennis history.