It is said that an athlete can only be judged after he or she has hung his or her boots up. It is only then that a rational analysis is possible. However, more often than not such procedures are reserved for the journeymen – ones who have lasted long on the circuit without so much making a major mark. Such a thought is perhaps not applicable for champions. Sania Mirza is one example. Right now after the semi retirement of Mahesh Bhupathi and the relative lack of success for the phenomenal Leander Paes, this Hyderabadi is the biggest name of the Indian lawn tennis firmament that includes other names like Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Deb Burman. Her mixed doubles triumph at the recently concluded US Open only confirms that.
For this tournament, Sania paired up with Bruno Soares from Brazil and defeated the duo of Abigail Spears from the US and Santiago Gonzalez from Mexico. Sania and Soares were seeded as the top contenders to win the championship and that goes to show the prestige being enjoyed by her in the ultra-competitive world of tennis. This was the third Grand Slam for Mirza. Her previous wins – Australian Open in 2009 and French Open in 2012 – came with Mahesh Bhupathi.
For Soares this was the second win in the mixed doubles category of the US Open. He had won in 2012 with Ekaterina Makarova from Russia. The final scoreline read 6-1, 2-6, 11-9 in favour of Sania and Soares. The fact that the game went the full throttle of 3 sets and the last set went to a tiebreaker shows how hard Sania and Soares had to fight for the title. It also proves their rock hard resilience, something that has become Sania’s hallmark of late.
At one point in time the situation had got dire for the champions with five championship points squandered one after the other. However, to give credit where it is due the first time pair was able to pull through and win it when Spears netted a backhand volley after the runners-up had managed to come back from 4-9 to make it 9-9.
While reacting immediately after the win, Sania said she enjoys playing with the Brazilian and is not sure why he has never played with her in all these years. She also revealed that she will be pairing up with the Brazilian in the upcoming Australian Open, which implies that Indian fans can expect another fantastic display from the leading tennis star of India.
Threat from Muslim organizations
Sania has had a good year in 2014 in the mixed doubles. She had got to the finals of the Australian Open as well with Horea Tecau from Romania but ended up coming second best. In the US Open women’s doubles she played well too. She partnered with Cara Black, one of the prominent tennis players from Zimbabwe, and progressed to the semifinals.
The magnanimity of Sania Mirza’s achievements can be judged from the fact that all her life she has had to face significant religious threat from various Muslim organizations and also cope with the gargantuan expectations of Indian sports fans who are characterized by their utter lack of balance. The workings of the AITA – she was paired with Leander Paes in the London Olympics even if she wanted to play with Rohan Bopanna – have not helped her either.
Her marriage to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik has only made things worse for her and led many to question her allegiance to her nation. It was only a few days back that she had broken down on live camera while speaking on this issue and now she has provided a fitting reply yet again to her doubters. It is the mark of a champion to rise from a phoenix time and again and the Hyderabadi lady has proved it once more. Kudos madame! Long may your journey continue!