To say the least, Martina Hingis was way in front of her generation right from the beginning, always being two steps ahead of her coevals. Born in September 1980 in Kosice, former Czechoslovakia, and coached by her mother, Martina made her junior debut at the age of 12, and in the next 19 months, she managed to finish her junior duties in style, in the time when the other competitors just made their first moves at this level! Playing only her 5th tournament in a career on the ITF junior level, Hingis stunned the tennis world by winning the Roland Garros title, at the age of 12, which was never seen before, not even close.
12 months later she defended her crown, adding Wimbledon title as well and becoming European Junior Champion, still at the age of 13! She lost in the final of the US Open to Meilen Tu and there was nothing more to prove at this level of competition, with the eyes set on the WTA Tour.
Earlier in 1994, Martina already made her pro debut at $25,000 Coburg event, winning one match, and she reached the semi-final at Prostejov in March, proving her class against the incomparably older rivals. While the other players of her age from the start of the story only began to collect junior experience, Hingis was ready to make a WTA debut, and that happened at Zurich, on October 4, 1994, just a few days after she turned 14. Patty Fendick, the American who is 15 years older than Martina, was her first rival, and the Swiss scored a marvelous 6-4 6-3 triumph to open her pro career in style, setting the tone for the upcoming years when she became the dominant figure in women's tennis (she was the 8th WTA world number 1 in 1997, still at the age of 16).
Mary Pierce, another huge talent, beat Martina 6-4 6-0 in the second round, but this was the amazing result for the Swiss girl, that brought her the wild cards for tournaments in Filderstadt and Essen, reaching the quarter-final at both events and ending the season inside the Top 90! The rest is pretty much the history and from the teenage sensation, Hingis became the force to be reckoned with, continuing her meteoric rise in the next couple of years and embracing the Grand Slam glory at the Australian Open in 1997.
20 years later, she is still at the top of the tennis world, as the best doubles player in the world, writing some new chapters of her amazing tennis journey that started 23 years ago, and unlikely to be finished soon. ALSO READ: October 1, 1988: Steffi Graf completes the Golden Slam in Seoul .