Martina Hingis’s glittering career came to a sudden end on Saturday when she suffered a shock doubles defeat at the WTA Finals — her last tournament before retiring.
Hingis and Taiwan’s Chan Yung-Jan, the world’s top pairing and reigning US Open champions, were beaten by third-ranked Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) in the Singapore semi-finals.
It ended a 19-match winning streak for Hingis and Chan — and halted one of the great careers in tennis.
Hingis won five Grand Slam singles titles after she emerged as a teenage prodigy in the 1990s, and later found success as a specialist in doubles, in which she has a further 20 major wins.
The “Swiss Miss”, now 37, has retired twice before — once after testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine — but she said it was “definite” this time.
Hingis and Chan were broken twice early in the first set and were unable to thwart their opponents’ inspired play.
The match took a twist when Babos injured her ankle late in the second set, but she gamely battled on to help deny Hingis a chance at a fairytale ending.
Hingis, who inspired a young Roger Federer, said this week she wanted to remain in tennis after retirement, possibly as a coach.
“I think now it’s definite. It’s different, because before I walked away thinking I might come back,” she told reporters on Thursday.
“After a season like this, I think it’s also perfect timing. You know you want to stop on top and not when you’re already going backward.
“I couldn’t ask for a better finish.”
Even though they lost, Hingis and Chan had already secured the year-end number one ranking in women’s doubles.