Tennis

Everyone thinks of becoming a strong, independent human being. Women look for role models and try to understand how to achieve that level. In today’s fast-paced society, there are a number of challenges to face when you start your journey towards success. One such strong woman who has inspired countless girls in India to take up Tennis is – Sania Mirza – who gave new definition to sports in India, particularly tennis. Despite numerous controversies, she never got distracted, but in fact tried to prove things through her performance on court. That’s what she believes in – performance speaks!

Sania in top ten

Sania Mirza has had a high-quality 2014 until now. She had decided to reach the first ten and here she is –at Number 6. According to the 27-year-old, the day is not far when she will grab the top position and be ranked as the top player. According to her, you need to believe in yourself, set goals and do the best you can to reach that position. She proved this last month along with Cara Black with an overwhelming 6-1, 6-0 win against defending champions Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai in the WTA doubles final held in Singapore on October 26. It wasn’t an easy journey towards the final game but when they did reach that point after fighting off three match points in the semi-final, they showcased a stunning doubles game.

In the first-season ending tournament, Mirza and Black emerged victorious and had their names written in records as it was the heftiest defeat in the summit clash of WTA Finals since its origin in 1973.  Mirza admits that it was an incredible moment to have received the trophy by Martina Navratilova and a privilege to be playing in front of unprecedented players such as Billie Jean King and Chris Evert. Undoubtedly, Sania herself terms 2014 as the extraordinary year for herself. Currently ranked No. 6 in the world, Sania Mirza has plans of conquering the top position in doubles in 2015.

Magical 2014

Mirza with her determination and practice conquered the courts. Could we also call it one of the best years of Sania Mirza in doubles? Yes, we can. According to the targets she set for herself until 2014 were proven true when she made her name in the top 5 list in doubles category on July 7 for the first time ever in her playing career. Not only that, she  clinched the US Open mixed doubles along with Bruno Soares  two months back and then emerged with a gold in mixed doubles with Saketh Myneni.

Followed by that, Sania won a bronze medal in women’s doubles along with Prarthana Thombare at the 17th Asian Games held in South Korea, Incheon. Mirza, as she says, has faced different challenges in all the championships but learnt from every game that she played. It is every player’s dream to play and win at any of the Grand Slams as it escorts only the best players and teams in the world and no easy rounds to players. Mirza, also won a medal for India at the Incheon Games, even though she paired up with inexperienced players. She believes that her presence gave the younger players a chance to play with experienced players like her.

Encircled by controversies

An inspiration to many, Sania Mirza had the honour of becoming the first Indian to win the season-ending championships, pasting through proficient doubles stars of India – Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes.  With such acheievements to her kitty, the Hyderabadi has always been surrounded by controversies. First, issues were raised on her fitness earlier this year. Mirza was in the news due to her tennis attire regarding it as against Islam and undignified. Year 2005 saw a fatwa against Sania Mirza. In 2008, along with Sunitha Rao, her pictures flooded newspapers with the charge of violating the dress code at Beijing Olympics. The same year, she was charged with insult to the national flag when a picture resting her feet in front of an Indian flag led to a citizen complaining against Mirza at the Hopman Cup.

Mirza even decided not to play anymore matches while these controversies encircled her. However, She came back around  2010 Commonwealth Games, with no controversies this time. Soon, she became the centre of news when in 2010 Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza tied the knot. Within a year, news of the two players splitting up came out. But Mirza, being a tough person at heart, doesn’t seem to accept such things and let it affect her performance.

According to her, it does frustrate players but we all have to learn how to deal with it when you have the tag of being a public figure. She certainly has learnt how to deal with it!

Asian Games at Incheon

Talking about the recent Incheon Games, Sania Mirza along with Somdev Devvarman, Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna decided not to play at the Asian Games only in order to be attentive and give time to training for the professional tours. Mirza faced criticism and was disparaged by many for taking this decision. However, she changed her mind thereafter leading the Indian team to the 17th Asian Games at Incheon.

The recent criticism and controversies arose when she became the brand ambassador for Telangana in July. There were questions being raised by BJP MLA K Laxman. This controversy affected Sania and she was disappointed at the media, public and people raising questions on her Indian nationality. She felt upset about asserting her love for the country and that there are reservations about sportspersons as well. Being the strong woman that she is, she also asserted that she was stubborn and would prove it to everyone.

True to her words, she clinched the US Open mixed doubles title with Soares in New York in the first week of September. Sealing a 6-1, 2-6, 11-9 victory over American Abigail Spears and Santiago Gonzalez from Mexico, Sania Mirza was elated to have won the mixed doubles final of the US Open. With that intrepid forehand, she literally brushed aside the criticism and emerged a winner! Her third Grand Slam title and the second in three years of her doubles career was enough to respond to the issues that rose against her.

A social person

One of the high-profile athletes of India, retiring from Singles was not a very easy decision for her. With various injuries, Singles did not really seem to be an apt choice for her. In 2007, she was ranked as high as 27 in the Singles category. But the recent success in Doubles shows that she made the right choice. Talking about the popularity of the game in India, Mirza feels disappointed that even though a lot of girls in India play tennis up till school or college level, they don’t prefer to continue it professionally.

Sania Mirza has inspired the women of India to get on courts and take up tennis with her determination towards the game. Taking charge of her social responsibility, Sania Mirza opened up a tennis academy in 2013 named Sania Mirza Tennis Academy which will facilitate tennis in India. Also, talented players who cannot afford high-quality training are trained free of cost at this academy.