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Future Uncertain for Injured Hingis

January 16, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

MELBOURNE, Australia — Another year, another retirement?

It seems as if the Australian Open is the place where these things take on their own momentum. Last year, it was Andre Agassi who was supposed to be on his way out because of a wrist injury, and he looked fitter than ever the other day, losing only one game in the second round.

Now, it's all about Martina Hingis. Certainly, Hingis' future has been in doubt for quite some time. The 22-year-old Swiss player, who won five Grand Slam singles titles before her 19th birthday and was ranked No. 1 for 209 weeks, hasn't played since October because of left ankle pain.

Hingis said at the WTA Championships in November that she would not return if she couldn't compete at the highest level. She went a step further Wednesday, saying there are no plans to come back right now. The three-time Australian Open champion did not say she was going to retire.

"It's quite possible that I will never play top-level tennis again because my feet don't allow it. I am not even thinking of a comeback," Hingis told the Swiss news agency Sport Information. "Tennis was and remains my passion.

"But I've also grasped that after eight years on the tour, I will only return if I can practice without pain. Competition is no fun if you can't come in perfectly prepared."

Top-ranked Serena Williams said she didn't think 22 was too young to leave the sport.

"I think she's had honestly a great career," Williams said. "She's won so many Slams. She's done so well at a young age. I don't think she could have any regrets in her career."

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