Martina Hingis inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame

Martina Hingis’s tennis life started right from birth and her days playing with a racket began barely after she learned to walk.

It was only fitting that she became one of the youngest players to be enshrined into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Hingis led a large 2013 class that was inducted Saturday in Newport, R.I., during an on-court ceremony that lasted just over 90 minutes, including a 25-minute rain delay.


Born in Czechoslovakia before moving to Switzerland at a young age, Hingis was named after a women’s tennis great.

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‘‘My biggest influence was my mom because she was a professional player, too,’’ Hingis said before the ceremony. ‘‘She started me when I was 2 years old. Another was Martina Navratilova, obviously — [my mom] gave me the name so that was the destiny that was programed already. When I started playing at 2 years old, that was the path.’’

After the rain delay, Hingis, dressed in a purple sleeveless dress with her hair still soaked, told the crowd: ‘‘Thank you, tennis. You gave me the world, and now I honestly am out of words, because there are no words to explain what I feel. You chose to give me a place here for eternity.’’

At 32 years, 10 months, Hingis is the fourth youngest to be inducted — behind Tracy Austin (30), Bjorn Borg (31), and Hana Mandlikova (32).

Hingis burst onto the professional scene when she was 14. Two years later she won three major tournaments, taking the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open in 1997.


In her career, Hingis won five Grand Slam singles championships — including three straight at the Australian Open from 1997-99 — and 43 singles titles overall. She also was a part of 37 doubles titles.

Also enshrined were 94-year-old Australian great Thelma Coyne Long, inducted in the master player category, and industry leaders Ion Tiriac, Cliff Drysdale, and Charlie Pasarell. Rod Laver accepted for Long. Six others were inducted in the masters category posthumously.

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The semifinal matches at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport were pushed back a day after heavy rain wiped out most of play.

Nicolas Mahut of France and American Michael Russell played three points before rain stopped the proceedings. The other semifinal between two-time defending champion John Isner, the No. 2 seed, and Lleyton Hewitt, seeded fourth, never got underway. Both semifinals will be early Sunday, with the final Sunday afternoon.