Time's up for Martina Hingis.
The 2-year drug suspension on the Swiss Miss ends today which is, coincidentally, her 29th birthday. SI's Jon Wertheim caught up with her to discuss her feelings on the suspension, its handling, and whether she has ever taken cocaine. Good stuff:
SI.com: From an emotional standpoint, how do feel you've handled the past two years?
Martina Hingis: OK. There were hard times and it was frustrating knowing I did nothing wrong but couldn't really fight this. It was my reputation and I knew the truth. But the process didn't really let me fight.
SI.com: Given your outspoken personality, I think it surprised a lot of people that maybe you weren't as forceful, deciding, for instance, not to appeal. Do you regret that?
Hingis: Like you say, I always spoke [honestly] even if I wasn't always politically correct. I spoke the truth even when the truth may have hurt me. But the system was set up in such a way that there was nothing I could do.
SI.com: Bottom line: have you ever ...
Hingis: No. Taken cocaine? Never. No [recreational] drugs. I don't know even the effects. I've maybe been in a position where I could have. But never, no. If I had ever taken cocaine, I would have said so.
SI.com: Before this happened, did you ever worry about a situation like this?
Hingis: No, because I probably had between 80-100 tests and no problems. The only thing I would ever take was aspirin and I was very particular about these things. Even if I had a flu I'd call my doctor and say, "What can I take?" I was always very cautious. I never took anything that was not approved first.
SI.com: Were any players notably supportive?
Hingis: Billie Jean King wrote a letter on my behalf. But, you know, I wasn't allowed at the Grand Slams, even to enter the stadium during tournaments. So I had little contact with the other players.
SI.com: Richard Gasquet?
SI.com: Lots of comebacks going on. You're 10 years younger than Kimiko Date ...
Hingis: I'll leave it Justine [Henin]! It's not so easy. You need to commit. You can't just do it when you want to. I know the women's game isn't at the highest point it's ever been. OK, look at Kim [Clijsters]. But she has the family support, the husband, she's physically strong. She played three tournaments and she's right back and I don't think anyone can hurt her on the court.
SI.com: What is your relationship with tennis?
Hingis: I love tennis, still a big part of my life. I didn't play much in the beginning of the suspension, but then I played more. Now when I play, a lot of the time it's with juniors. I've been able to [distinguish] between the sport and the administrators.
Now, here's a returnament I could get excited about...again. Third times a charm, right Marty?