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Martina Hingis mulls another tennis comeback

Hingis, 30, a five-time major champion who retired in 2007 after a positive drug test, seems intrigued by idea of playing doubles with Roger Federer at 2012 Olympics, but says, 'there's a lot of ifs.'

August 01, 2011|By Matt Stevens
  • Martina Hingis congratulates Serena Williams during a World Team Tennis match in New York.
Martina Hingis congratulates Serena Williams during a World Team Tennis… (Daniel P. Derella / Associated…)

Reporting from Carlsbad — Roger Federer and Martina Hingis against Serena Williams and Andy Roddick for the mixed-doubles Olympic gold.

Sounds good to everyone, except perhaps Hingis.

On Monday afternoon the former world No. 1 met with the media after playing a pro-am event to kick off the Mercury Insurance Open at La Costa Resort and Spa and said "at this point," she would not consider an Olympic comeback with Federer at the London Games next year.

"I didn't think it was going to make such an explosion, oh my God," she said. "There's a lot of ifs, and it's still far away."

Hingis confirmed that "there have definitely been a few talks" between Federer's camp and hers, but she said she has not spoken with Federer personally. The 30-year-old Hingis would probably have to rejoin the WTA tour playing doubles and submit to drug testing, among other things, before she could compete with Federer for Switzerland in 2012.

Hingis ended a comeback in 2007 and retired for the second time after testing positive for cocaine, resulting in a two-year ban that ended in 2009. She has denied ever using the drug.

Federer also will probably be asked to play singles and men's doubles, and Hingis said she was unsure whether he'd be willing to play in three events.

"I don't know what he's going to do," Hingis said. "It's probably more up to him, right?"

But Hingis has been tantalizing tennis fans with her recent play in World Team Tennis. She beat Williams on July 20 in a WTT event; Williams won the WTA tournament at Palo Alto on Sunday, less than two weeks later.

Do wins like that get Hingis' competitive juices flowing?

"Oh they do," she said. "Of course, it's natural. But I don't think I'd last a whole match right now. It's OK for team tennis — five games."

If a comeback happens, Hingis said it would be in doubles. But she also said it would take a lot to pry her out of retirement. She signed a contract with Tonic — a Canadian apparel company — at Wimbledon this year, and is in the middle of helping it produce a line of tennis clothing set for release next spring. She also continues to play a full schedule in World Team Tennis.

"The question is always why should I do it?" Hingis said. "Because I enjoy playing? But the travel and the stress you put yourself into — my life is very comfortable and I enjoy my life."

The winner of five Grand Slam tournaments has comeback experience. In 2006, after a three-year sabbatical, Hingis returned to tennis and ended the year ranked No. 7 in the world. That time, she used team tennis to build confidence before returning to the tour. But her comeback was cut short in 2007 by her positive drug test.

Vera Zvonareva, the top-seeded player at La Costa, said she hadn't heard anything about Hingis teaming with Federer, but she didn't hesitate to call her one of the "few greatest players in the history of the sport."

"[It is] always great to have those champions back on the court," Zvonareva said. "No matter how long ago they played, no matter what their age, it creates something special. It brings a lot of fans back to the game."

matthew.stevens@latimes.com

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