The BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global is back for its last edition in Singapore from 21 to 28 October, and Expat Living was lucky enough to chat with former tennis star Martina Hingis about her experience in the WTA Finals. Playing professionally since 14 and being the youngest player to be ranked world number one, she has a wealth of experience and memories to share.
When and how did your love for tennis begin?
My mom was a professional tennis player and she was the one who introduced me to the sport. I started playing when I was around two years old and it took off from there. By the age of five, I was already competing. At 12, I won my first Grand Slam junior title at the French Open and when I turned 14, I decided to turn pro.
What are you looking forward to the most during this year’s tournament?
Good competition, an adrenaline rush and the fans! I think the final edition of the WTA Finals in Singapore will be the grandest and the best one yet. Simona Halep has already qualified for the fifth time, and I’m excited to see how far she’ll go in the tournament – I can already see some good tennis action with the current line-up.
Tell us about your own experiences of playing in the WTA Finals in Singapore.
It has been an exhilarating experience playing in Singapore. My most memorable moments were playing here for the first time with Sania Mirza in 2015, winning the Doubles championship title and retiring as Doubles World No. 1 with Latisha Chan last year. I had a really great year when I teamed up with Latisha in 2017. We were the first pair to qualify for the Finals, and I was ecstatic and emotional at the same time. Latisha knew I planned to retire after the tour but nevertheless she was supportive of my decision. We gave 110% in every match we played. We didn’t win the title but I ended my career as Doubles World No. 1, so that’ll always be a major highlight for me!
What do you look forward to doing each time you’re in Singapore for the tournament?
Meeting fans from here and from the region – they are always so warm and passionate. When we have time off from the tournament, I usually spend my time shopping, eating, sightseeing and experiencing local culture. Marina Bay Sands where we stay is beautiful and iconic – the restaurants, and the infinity pool that offers the perfect view of the city.
Do you think the women’s tennis scene has grown in the recent years?
Yes, I’ve seen lots of developments, especially in the past decade, and I can tell that we have more fans from Asia following the tour. It was a great move for the WTA Finals to come to the region. It not only offers opportunities to watch top players compete live, but there have been many programmes created as part of the event to promote tennis. Having such a big event here definitely helps attract new fans and bring deeper appreciation of the sport.
What were some challenges you faced in your career, and what kept you going?
Tennis is my life and I loved every moment of it – both the highs and the lows. I’ve been very fortunate to have experienced more highs than lows in my career. What kept me going was the will to win. I pushed and challenged myself to become better.
For athletes, the main challenge we face is getting older. It’s a race against time because when you’re younger, you’re more agile, have more energy and recover faster. I started at 14, and back then there was no such thing as jet lag because I was always excited to experience everything. I also suffered from ankle and hip injuries at that time and had to retire from tennis, but I didn’t have any problems recovering. I had surgeries and underwent rehabilitation, and after three years, I was back on the court. In the last few years of my career, I had to make sure that I spent more time recovering after each match and taking care of my body.
What do you enjoy doing besides playing tennis?
I’m still very much active in the tennis scene despite retiring last year, but now I’ve more time to spend catching up with family and friends and doing other things I love. I still enjoy horseback riding and skiing, which were my hobbies since childhood. I also got married in July this year and I’m having a fabulous time!
Any encouragement for those pursuing sports as a career?
Always be positive – don’t forget to enjoy it and have some fun! Set realistic expectations as circumstances may not always be in your favour. There’ll be loads of sacrifices and lessons to be learnt, but it’ll be all worth it in the end.
Get your tickets now!
Written in collaboration with:
BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global
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