Swiss tennis legend Martina Hingis believes her success in tennis made it easier for the likes of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, who followed her to become Grand Slam champions.
The 37-year-old, who announced her retirement from professional tennis in October, was the first person from Switzerland to win a Grand Slam in 1997. Hingis won three singles majors and one doubles as a fresh faced 17-year-old 20 years back.
It was Hingis' third career retirement after first calling it quits in 2002 owing to injury troubles. She made a comeback in 2005 before again retiring in 2007 after she was suspended by the ITF for two years for failing a drug test.
The Swiss Miss made a comeback again in 2014 after playing in the invitational and legends events at Grand Slams during the interim years. It was a successful return to the game for Hingis as she picked up a further 10 major titles and returned to world number one in the women's doubles rankings to make it 25 Grand Slams overall in singles, doubles and mixed doubles competitions.
Federer paid tribute to his compatriot after she announced her final goodbye to the game, and Hingis appreciated the gesture from the Swiss ace, who like her is considered one of the greatest of the current era. The 36-year-old won his first Grand Slam six years after Hingis' triumph and has gone on to dominate the men's game winning 19 men's singles majors, while Wawrinka a more recent major champion won his first at the Australian Open in 2014 and has captured two more titles since.
"I was very happy about it, it's a beautiful compliment," Hingis said when asked about Federer, as quoted by the Express.
"I was already a pioneer, winning Grand Slams as a Swiss player. It was (therefore) a little bit easier for the following generation," she said talking about the future Swiss Grand Slam champions Federer and Wawrinka.