PATTAYA, Thailand -- Five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis returns to competitive tennis after more than two years on the sidelines when she
takes to the court in this week's $170,000 WTA
Kept away from tennis with a severe ankle injury since 2002, Hingis launches her comeback campaign Tuesday against Marlene Weingartner in the first
round of the tournament.
Hingis last appeared on the circuit Oct. 2002 at Filderstadt, Germany, where she lost to Elena Dementieva 3-6, 1-6.
The Swiss national said despite her long lay off, she would be playing the Pattaya competition to win.
"As a competitor and athlete, I always want to win. But I hope my body will last and hold up and help me to come through," Hingis said Sunday.
"I still stayed in the game. I was a commentator for some matches. I did not totally get lost from tennis," she added.
Hingis admitted missing the game as she watched rising Russian stars dominating women's tennis.
"You miss being out there in a Grand Slam final and not be able to compete," said Hingis, who has not announced what other tournaments she will enter
after Pattaya. "Its a big difference between staying on court and commenting for TV. I miss it a lot."
Hingis almost hung up her racket for good, insisting last year that a comeback was unlikely.
"You say things sometimes," she said. "I said that because I didn't know what would happen with my body."
On of Hingis' motivations in playing in Thailand was to donate her prize money to charity.
She visited deprived children here Saturday and plans to travel to the tsunami-battered island of Phuket to support survivors Monday.
"I saw news in Switzerland every day about the natural disaster. It was very unfortunate. I came here to play tennis and hopefully to make people feel
better," Hingis said.
But the Swiss star said the tropical temperature in Thailand was "a shock to my body because back in Switzerland the temperature is minus 10."
Leading the field of entrants in Pattaya is world No. 11 ranked Vera Zvonareva of Russia. Seeded second to fourth are Marion Bartoli of France,
Conchita Martinez of Spain, and American Mashona Washington.
The 20-year-old Zvonareva is pitted against Argentina's Maria Emilia Salerni in the first round, while Bartoli has a comfortable opening match against
wild card Ayu Fanti Damayanti of Indonesia. Veteran Martinez will play a qualifier while Washington will encounter Ukraine's Alyona Bondarenko.
Jelena Dokic, the former No. 4 ranked player who slipped to 126 this week, also joins the action and will play Anne Kremer of Luxembourg in the first
Hingis beat Weingartner in 1999 and 2002.