It is 2pm. Martina Hingis is about to have lunch in a grand ballroom at Roland Garros. "I'm starving" she repeats three times as she wolfs down a biscuit seasoned with cream in a tube. Sharp, smiling and sporting a little black dress, the Swiss doesn't really feel like talking about herself. "And, everyone knows what I'm doing!" Do you?
November 1, 2007, and it's with a trembling voice and eyes on her press release that Martina Hingis announces that she has tested positive for cocaine during a drug test conducted six months earlier at Wimbledon. Humiliated, the little princess of Trübbach categorically rejects the allegations but ultimately announces her retirement. At 27. Tested by a non-official organism, the level of cocaine measured was at 42 nanograms per millilitre - it’s so low that it would almost have Richard Gasquet and his equally low 151 ng / ml pass for a big junkie. When, on May 9, 2009, the Frenchman also tested positive for the same psychotropic drug, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) stood behind the theory of an “accidental ingestion by French kiss” during a party in Miami. The result: no penalty, given the "exceptional" and "probably unique" nature of the incident. “Gasquet at least knows how the drug came into his body" says Martina, with more than a hint of sarcasm, who at that time had chosen not to defend herself. On January 4, 2008, the ITF suspends her for two years: a purely symbolic punishment, since the Swiss has already left the circuit after the announcement of her test. "I didn't even have the right to participate in an amateur show- jumping event” remembers the banned champion. “During my suspension the U.S. Open organized a kind of parade with all the former winners but I wasn't even allowed to go there! Wimbledon did the same thing. My reputation has been soiled".
Bridle, riding hat and spurs
A two-phase retirement. From 2003 to 2006, Martina Hingis had already taken leave from professional tennis after two operations on her feet. "I was really poorly, she admits today. My first career was great. I had fun, I was the youngest. Then the Russian armada arrived and it became extremely difficult physically. You cannot play by halves. I had to play at 120% with my size, eh." The second time was the good one. Or rather the one: "The following time around, I found the time to get married." The forbidden fruit of a long search... Girlfriend of golfer Sergio Garcia, fiancée of Czech tennis player Radek Štěpánek and even promised to the Zurich lawyer Andreas Bieri, the former world number one eventually tied the knot with young French rider Thibault Hutin , 24, and show-jumping champion. They are a couple united around a common passion: horse riding. Since she was 11 years old, and especially since her retirement, Martina swaps whenever she can racket for a bridle, riding hat, and spurs. "I live in Switzerland but my husband and I come to France often, he trains near Paris. But, right now, we spend most of our time on planes and all over the world. "We must say that she is one of the most requested stars for exhibition matches. It is a calling that takes a lot of her time, as if a third career. "Fifteen to twenty exhibitions per year are already quite a lot, she sighs. I started in Australia, then Doha then now here in Paris. I was in Caracas, Taiwan... Anyway I’ve gained a few air-miles (Laughs)."Tennis thus keeps an important place in the body, heart and schedule of the champion. It’s paradoxical for someone who doesn't miss the routine of highest level: "Today I have the luxury of choosing my own hotel (laughs). To play Grand Slams is the icing on the cake. I know everything you have to give at home and in training. And I don't miss it at all." Maybe, but this eternal pilgrim still imposes a hectic lifestyle on herself "With all this, I'm already quite busy! My husband often tells me: 'you haven't got time for me anymore. It’s just tennis, tennis and tennis.”
Green Pea, Helmut Newton and Playboy
In 2010, alongside the gorgeous Gisele Bundchen, the Swiss signed with the prestigious Swiss modelling agency Option Model. This mythical smile from the WTA tour then posed for the greats: Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz or Michel Comte. But she refused the advances of Playboy: "I was offered a lot of money, but my boyfriend would not have appreciated it." Now married, she has her own clothing line, Tennis Tonic, and the videotape of her appearance on a British reality television, in 2009. The Excellent Beat the Star, a show during which an average person competes against a celebrity in multiple physical challenges. It was an opportunity for Hingis to drive a buggy and run on wooden logs suspended several metres in the air. "Oh, yes it's true. I remember the green pea that I could not get into the bottle." More seriously, or almost, she is also a consultant for the famous French tennis academy Mouratoglou. This allows her to keep a close eye on the evolution of women's tennis: "There are fewer personalities in tennis today. I'm not the only one to say so. There are plenty of players who hit the ball the same way, who all have the same look. It's a shame, because back in the day you had Seles, Davenport and the Williams sisters, me and Anna Kournikova. There were faces, more emotions. Now it’s very mechanical" says the nostalgic "Swiss Miss", this child star of the 90's broadly admired for her precise, fluid style of play, with a strong sense of tactics. "It hits, hits, hits ... I do miss it, yes, the proper tennis game."
Victor Le Grand