LONDON (AP) – Martina Hingis is returning to professional tennis – again.

The former top-ranked player, who retired from the WTA Tour three years ago because of an ankle injury, won five Grand Slam singles titles in her career and was the youngest player to be ranked No. 1.

The 25-year-old Swiss player made a brief comeback in February, losing in the first round of the Volvo Women’s Open in Thailand. Her previous match was at Filderstadt in October 2002, but she believed she prematurely returned to competition following left ankle surgery, and withdrew from all remaining tournaments.

“I was never happy that my injuries cut my career short and ultimately forced my decision to step away from tennis,” Hingis said Tuesday in a statement. “I have enjoyed my time away from the court. However, I miss the game and the challenge of competing at the highest level of tennis and I want to gauge whether I can stay healthy and compete against today’s top players.”

Hingis won 40 singles titles and 36 doubles titles on the WTA Tour. She was only 16 when she took over the top ranking in March 1997. She spent 209 of the next 247 weeks in the top spot. She also is one of only five women to be ranked No. 1 in singles and doubles at the same time.

Hingis made her debut on the WTA Tour on Oct. 4, 1994, four days after her 14th birthday. In 1997, she won three of the four majors and missed the Grand Slam by losing the French Open final to Iva Majoli. In 1998, Hingis won all four doubles titles at the majors.

Hingis earned $18.3 million in prize money, third on the all-time list behind Steffi Graf and namesake Martina Navratilova.

She is targeting a return in early 2006.

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