Martina Hingis announced her retirement today, after 23 years of professional tennis that began, ridiculously, with her winning major titles and hitting world No. 1 by age 16. She was the sort of prodigy wholly absent from the modern game, obsolete due to the increased physical demands of the sport. A contemporary of the Williams sisters, Hingis wasn’t always the most sympathetic character off the court or dynamic player on it, but she was a flat-out technician with a fine-tuned, finesse-centric game. Later in her career she’d struggle to keep up with the rest of the competition—both in terms of raw pace on the ball, and sustained health on the tour—but she had, in fits and starts, a historic career, with a haul of five grand slam singles titles and 13 grand slam doubles titles.
This most recent retirement is the third of Hingis’s career, and, according to her, the last. First, at 22, due to persistent ankle injuries. (She returned to the tour two years later.) Then, at 27, after testing positive for a cocaine metabolite. (She returned to the tour seven years later.) Hingis had always been a successful doubles player thanks to her slick net game, but in this third incarnation she became a dominant, doubles-only presence, a wise career-lengthening move when a player can no longer scurry all over the singles court blasting groundstrokes, but still possesses the kind of craftiness that’s slower to fade with age.
After she wraps up her year-end doubles competition at Singapore this week at the top seed, the 37-year-old Hingis claims she’s done for good.