|Monday, June 11
Updated: June 13, 11:16 AM ET
|Hingis claims shoes injured her feet|
NEW YORK -- Martina Hingis, the world's top-ranked female
tennis player, has filed a $40 million lawsuit charging that an
Italian sportswear maker whose products she endorsed gave her shoes
that injured her feet.
Hingis, 20, of Switzerland, says in court papers that in
tournaments from 1996 into 1999, she wore clothing and shoes made
by Sergio Tacchini as part of a five-year endorsement deal that was
to pay her $5.6 million.
But because Tacchini had outfitted her with "defective" shoes
"unsuitable for competition," she was forced to withdraw from
several tournaments, court papers say.
While competing in the U.S. Open in New York City in September
1998, Hingis sustained a debilitating foot injury, say papers filed
in Manhattan's state Supreme Court.
Hingis had her feet examined by a Manhattan doctor, "who
confirmed that the injury was a chronic one and was being caused by
the tennis shoes manufactured by the defendant Sergio Tacchini,"
court papers say.
"The shoes were defectively designed and manufactured and
therefore were not providing Hingis with the support necessary to
play competitive tennis," according to Hingis' court papers, filed
In October 1998, Hingis withdrew from tennis tournaments in
Filderstadt, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland. That same month, she
had her feet examined by an orthopedic specialist -- recommended by
Tacchini -- in Milan, Italy.
The doctor recommended that Tacchini modify Hingis' shoes, but
the company, headquartered in Novara, Italy, failed to do so, court
Meanwhile, from October 1998 to June 1999, court papers say,
Hingis' feet kept hurting.
"She was forced to receive treatments for her foot injuries at
nine separate tournaments in Manhattan, Philadelphia, California
and South Carolina," according to Hingis' lawsuit. "Hingis also
withdrew from the Wimbledon doubles tournament in June 1999 because
of her injured feet."
Then, in a letter dated April 23, 1999, Tacchini fired Hingis as
a spokeswoman. Court papers said the company "erroneously"
claimed she had breached their contract by failing to wear a
Tacchini hat at a tournament and other Tacchini tennis clothing at
a charity event.
In a press release that Hingis' court papers called "false and
defamatory," company chairman Sergio Tacchini explained why she
"She damaged our image and our products because of her behavior
and extremely discrediting statements concerning her main
sponsor," court papers quote Tacchini as saying. "We could not
tolerate this attitude any longer."
There was no listed representative for Tacchini in North
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Italian shoemaker shrugs off Hingis' $40 million lawsuit