FORMER world No.1 Martina Hingis has all but announced her retirement from tennis.
The 22-year-old Swiss star told l’Equipe sports daily today she had no intention of returning to the women’s circuit she dominated from 1997 to 2000 when she won five Grand Slam singles crowns and eight doubles titles.
“I have been in the game too long to know what it takes to get to the top and I’m no longer capable of it,” she said.
“When you have been No.1 for four years you cannot be satisfied with anything less. And when you can’t compete with the best … No it’s not possible to envisage a comeback.
“There’s no point in looking back. I’ve got a great life ahead of me.”
Hingis is recovering from further surgery on damaged ankle ligaments.
An operation last year caused her to miss the French Open and Wimbledon but she returned for the US Open where she lost to Monica Seles in the third round.
Her last match was at Filderstadt in Germany on October 10 last year when she was beaten by Russia’s Elena Dementieva.
She then called a halt to her season and pulled out of the year’s first Grand Slam event, the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Hingis says no-one can currently match the Williams sisters Venus and Serena.
“The only one is Kim Clijsters. She has the strength and the talent,” she said when asked what she felt when Serena Williams won her fourth successive Grand Slam tournament at Melbourne last month.
“But Serena is the best player in the world at the moment, there’s no question about it.”
Hingis, born in Slovakia, was christened Martina by her tennis-loving mother after Martina Navratilova.
He mother brought her to Switzerland when she was eight.
She won 40 WTA tournaments, three successive Australian Opens, from 1997 to 1999, and Wimbledon and the US Open in 1997.
That was the year she missed a Grand Slam when she lost to Iva Majoli in the French Open final.
She became world No.1 at 16 and held the ranking for 209 weeks.
She has not won a major title since the Australian Open in 1999, losing the 2002 final in Melbourne in suffocating heat to Jennifer Capriati. Her last tournament win was in Tokyo in February, 2002.
She was not the most popular player on the circuit and threw a famous tantrum when losing the 1999 French Open final to Steffi Graf.
Her career earnings totalled $US18,344,660.