WIMBLEDON 2006 INTERVIEWS: June 24: Martina Hingis
Q. How does it feel to be back at Wimbledon after so long?
MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, five years it's been. It's really a great place to be back and they have done some interiors on the top of the roof, the garden, it's just so peaceful up there. You see the whole grounds and even when you have a cup of coffee and just look down at the court, it's nice.
Q. Is it more special to you since you have won here and you already cemented your place in Wimbledon history, does it feel a bit more comfortable coming back, less pressure?
MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, because you have won here you don't get questions like, oh, this is the only one you haven't won yet, but no, it's been a while, though, yeah, nine years, and it's just -- every year you get this member card this purple little thing with your name on it and definitely, when I came here two years ago for the commentary, you still get to go to some places where normally, you know, you get there either you are a member and get a cup of tea when no one is there, you have your peaceful time.
Q. Does it seem an awfully long time ago at the age of 16 when you won at Wimbledon or does it seem like yesterday?
MARTINA HINGIS: Sometimes it feels like it's not that long, but sometimes it does feel like it's long because you see it. It's nine years, and you have all the other names on the list and somehow kind of -- I look at it like this is the second time around, you know, second career. In some ways I feel like a rookie again because it has been so long since I have played here so it all feels very new again.
Q. Can your second career possibly be better than your first career?
MARTINA HINGIS: It is hard to do. But obviously it would be great if it could happen, but you have so many great players out there who are fighting for the same reason and working on the same goals, so again here, it's a very strong field. You always try to make the best out of it.
Q. If it can't be better than what is it that you are actually trying to achieve, would you say?
MARTINA HINGIS: Well, really the game, to be able to perform at the best. A lot of people wouldn't think that I could really handle that anymore, the power game and all these ideas people had, and it was really nice that I showed that it was still possible. I didn't win a Grand Slam yet or didn't get all the way, but I was able to win a tournament, which was very nice to do again, and we'll see - step by step.
Q. Earlier this afternoon we had Andre Agassi sitting in this seat announcing his retirement this year. He's one of of the few rare examples of a player who has been able to be at the top, have time out and then come back from a very low-level. Is he an example to you to see that as an inspiration?
MARTINA HINGIS: Of course, he is an example for different reasons, you know, his game, his force he had on and off the court, just really the game itself and it was such -- such a personality you have to look for many years. I don't think there's another Andre Agassi ever going to be like that. There never has been and I don't think ever will be because times change and he just really played such a great game and I am sure that tennis will miss him, but, yeah, he's an inspiration in many ways.
Q. How did you feel this time every year for the last three, four years when you have not been able to play here? How was it for you to watch this thinking I may never play here again?
MARTINA HINGIS: Well, when I was here two years ago, you know, you somehow when you are 22 you still have things in the back of your head you don't want to give up or you still have hope that maybe some day you can, I don't know, maybe play here again. That was a thought too far away, but when I was watching the matches and the games, my biggest fear was if I can last that long with my body and maybe one set I would last, but, who knew if I could last for longer than that. That was my probably biggest fear that couldn't cure again but I don't want to have any regrets either so that's why I wanted to try again. I just really love the game. When I was watching it, yeah, I did some matches in the commentary and there was the same people, same faces, which I was facing back then, so I thought, well, this still maybe I get another chance.
Q. What are your memories of your last match here?
MARTINA HINGIS: Not the greatest. I can only do better, right. (Laughs)
Q. What do you remember about that day? You had trouble with your back, didn't you?
MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, later you always know better, right, I shouldn't have played at all under those circumstances, but as a player you never want to give up and you just want to go out there and still try, but yeah, nothing like that hopefully will happen ever again.
Q. Can you tell us what your preparation on grass has been this year?
MARTINA HINGIS: I was at home and I was practicing indoors.
Q. You actually practiced on grass?
MARTINA HINGIS: We don't have that many grass courts around in Switzerland. I did it in the past. I went once up in the mountains, but it's just so different. You can't compare any grass to Wimbledon grass. Yeah, maybe in Queens or Royal Hampton (phonetic) or clubs like that, which is so close, but I don't think anything else can come even close to Wimbledon. So you just try to make the exercises and I think indoors -- actually in the past when I won in 1997 I practiced on clay, but it is all a matter of what you do on clay; it's not how you practice. That's the main --
Q. You were horse riding as well?
MARTINA HINGIS: I still did, but only a couple of times. Two weeks -- once a week, it's enough this time. (Laughs)
Q. What are your memories of winning in 1997 and secondly, did you think when you won in 1997 I hope to win many more titles?
MARTINA HINGIS: Well, that's when you are 17 you think that. It is only natural. At that point it was normal to me when I won three out of four Grand Slams and made the Finals at the French and I had a great winning streak and, in a way, you feel invincible, but, you know, I had players -- players are starting to get better and perform at the same level and it was always, you know, very equal when we played against Williams sisters and Monica, Jennifer, Lindsay, so, you know, sometimes it was a matter of one point.
Q. Have you been practicing here this week?
MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, today was my first day.
Q. Was that the first time that you have been on a grass court since 2001?
MARTINA HINGIS: No, I played last year. I played an exhibition in Eastbourne, just doubles, I had a hit earlier before that, it was preparation with Jana. She still plays unbelievable. I lost a tiebreaker. I was like wow. Whenever she steps on grass she's unbelievable.
Q. What did it feel like back on the court here having not played here for five years?
MARTINA HINGIS: It felt good. I like it. I think in some ways it's -- I wouldn't say similar, but because we have a lot of indoor courts in Switzerland, my mom has an indoor place as well, so it's very similar, but sometimes, yeah, you have the bounces and it is still outside so you have the sun and the wind effects, but other than that, I very much welcome the surface, yeah.
Q. What is your goal for this tournament? What is your realistic game?
MARTINA HINGIS: Hard to say. In a way, I am definitely satisfied with the draw. I have made quarterfinals in the last two Grand Slams, so in a way somehow you feel that's the least you want to do, but I don't know.
I just don't want to have any bad surprises, you know, that's the only thing. It's just to stay healthy and perform at the best and really take it one-by-one.
Q. Who would you consider the favorites in the women's tournament?
MARTINA HINGIS: In a way you have the same players who are very good at all Grand Slams. You can always count on them, who are the Top-10 players, Amelie, Justine, who won today in the Finals of Eastbourne, Kim Clijsters, Maria, who won here two years ago and Venus, you can never count her off. She's still got some skills last year, so she's definitely also a dangerous player.
Q. You see yourself amongst players who can potentially win here this fortnight?
MARTINA HINGIS: I definitely have hopes, yeah. I wouldn't say, you know, I don't know. I mean, definitely a good outsider.
Q. Some of the players have expressed amazingly how well you have done so far in your comeback. How would you assess your first six months?
MARTINA HINGIS: I am happy with my performances. Then you always wish for more and better, but that's the only natural thing you have as a competitor and just want to keep going and keep improving and keep, yeah, the balance keep going up, right, the scale.
Q. What is your opinion on the prize money not being balanced between women and men?
MARTINA HINGIS: I think in today's world it would be time to have equal prize money, but, you know, you can only do one thing to keep fighting.
Q. As a 14 year old when you played Steffi was that on the Centre Court or not?
MARTINA HINGIS: Yes, we played on Centre. And I played her the year after at the forefront and it was Centre again.
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