Even though Sania Mirza enjoys being a celebrity in India, has friends in Bollywood and wades through multiple controversies, she has not let any of that get to her on the tennis court
Sania Mirza wasn’t really being glib when she said, “even if I would have lost, I’m still creating history,” in the aftermath of her historic win at Wimbledon, when she and Martina Hingis staged a thrilling comeback in front of a packed Centre Court to win the women’s doubles title.
India’s Sania Mirza jumps in joy after she and Swiss partner Martina Hingis beat Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina to clinch the Wimbledon ladies doubles crown in London on Saturday. Pic/Getty Images
It was a first for an Indian woman, and inevitably that woman happened to be Sania. As much as the 28-year-old shines in flying the Indian flag the world over, tennis is first and foremost a global game played in over 200 countries and Sania’s biggest achievement yet may well be not being complacent at being the best Indian woman on show but taking the world on at their own game.
“Every kid that picks up a tennis racquet thinks about winning Wimbledon or playing at Wimbledon one day. I’m trying to win because we want to win. This is what we play for really,” she said.
Success at this scale is just not possible if the focus is not steadfastly on winning. And even though Sania enjoys being a celebrity in India, has friends in Bollywood and wades through multiple controversies, she has not let any of that get to her on the tennis court. Transferring her body weight slightly to the left, when the time comes, she’s always ready to fire that forehand flat into enemy territory.
Even Hingis, the supremely talented Hingis who is in her third stint in tennis already at 34, was in awe of the Sania forehand and the havoc it wreaked in the final.
The World No 1 pair of Sania and Hingis seemed to be on the brink of defeat at 2-5 in the third set. But energised by the crowd support and sparked by their own refusal to lose, Sania-Hingis started to string the points together. “You started hitting your forehand even bigger!” Hingis said to Sania during the champions’ press conference on Saturday.
Sania-Hingis eventually beat their Russian rivals Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 5-7, 7-6(4), 7-5 in one of the most eye-catching doubles finals in a while.
For Sania, it was her fourth Grand Slam win, but first at Wimbledon and first in the women’s doubles. It also capped a remarkable 12 months for the Indian ace in the doubles game: she won the US Open mixed doubles title with Bruno Soares at the 2014 US Open, won the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore with Cara Black, took over as World No 1 in doubles in April and on Saturday, won the ultimate prize in her sport.
Peers not surprised
None of her peers are really surprised to see her excel at this level. Once the Indian made the decision to reset ambitions and committed to doubles full-time, the results have come at an astonishing speed. While Leander Paes’ quick hands at the net make him a valuable commodity in the men’s doubles, Sania’s big and bold groundstrokes have made her stand out. Having won four major with three different partners now, the Indian has emerged as a great doubles player, Indian or otherwise, in her own right. At 28, her best years are still ahead of her.
2003 The year India tennis star Sania Mirza turned pro