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In the End, Youth Is Served at Wimbledon

Tennis: Hingis combines with Sukova to win women's doubles and becomes youngest champion ever.

July 09, 1996|From Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England — A Wimbledon that didn't want to end finally did Monday, just in time for Martina Hingis to become the youngest winner of a women's title in the championship's history.

After five days of rain-wrecked matches, the gates of the All England Club were thrown open to the general public, who attended free of charge, and Centre Court was packed for the completion of women's doubles and mixed doubles.

The odd couple of Hingis and Helena Sukova, the former half the age and seemingly half the height of the latter, teamed to win the women's doubles by completing a 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 victory over Meredith McGrath and Larisa Neiland.

Hingis, at 15 years and 282 days, was three days younger than Charlotte "Lottie" Dod was in 1887 when she won the first of her five singles titles.

"For every tennis player, this is a big goal, to win Wimbledon, even if it's doubles," Hingis said. "But I hope one time it will be the singles too.

"I always wanted to have this title [as youngest Wimbledon champion], because I have broken so many records already."

Hingis lost in the fourth round of the singles to eventual champion Steffi Graf.

Hingis and Sukova had all but won the match Sunday night when rain and darkness combined to send them home with a 4-1 lead in the third set.

Sukova, 31, won the Wimbledon women's doubles title in 1989 and 1990 with Czech Republic compatriot Jana Novotna, and in 1987 with Claudia Kohde-Kilsch.

Hingis, a Czech native named after Martina Navratilova, lives in Switzerland and is most comfortable speaking German. On court, though, she and Sukova converse in Czech.

"Martina is a little bit different player than the other two [partners] were, and you have to adjust," Sukova said. "She basically has all the shots. I only try to keep up her motivation. If I tell her to hit a shot down the line, she hits it down the line. If I tell her to hit a lob, she hits a lob. It's quite easy to make the game plan. You just like to put her in a good mood, so she feels like playing, and then everything works fine."

Sukova and her brother, Cyril Suk, beat Neiland and Mark Woodforde, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, in the mixed doubles later Monday.

It was the first time since 1991 that no American player had won any of the Wimbledon titles.

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