Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina overpowered Switzerland’s World No. 1 doubles player Martina Hingis and teammate Timea Bacsinszky for gold.
Makarova and Vesnina have been doubles partners since 2012, having won the 2013 French Open and 2014 US Open together. (Makarova also won the mixed doubles competition at the 2012 US Open, while Vesnina won the mixed doubles competition at the 2016 Australian Open – in both instances, partnering with Brazilian Bruno Soares.)
Just as significantly, Makarova and Vesnina helped Russia win the 2008 Fed Cup. (Vesnina was also on Russia’s winning 2007 team.) The Fed Cup is women’s tennis’ most significant team competition and is contested annually.
Martina Hingis, 35, is one of tennis’ most-ever decorated players. In the first phase of her career, Hingis racked up 14 Grand Slam titles across singles and doubles before injuries forced her initial retirement in 2003. Since her second return to the game in 2013, Hingis has played women’s doubles and mixed doubles exclusively.
Initially, Hingis was set to compete in mixed doubles with Roger Federer. But in late July, Federer pulled out of the Rio Olympics and the rest of the tennis season following complications from a knee injury sustained in January. The No. 1 doubles player was also set to partner with Belinda Bencic for women’s doubles, before Bencic withdrew from the Games due to a problem with her wrist.
Though she made her Olympic debut at Atlanta 1996, Hingis missed all other Games until Rio 2016.