New Delhi: Left teary-eyed after her Indianness was put into question just weeks back, tennis star Sania Mirza dedicated her US Open title to the country and the new state of Telangana, where her appointment as brand ambassador triggered a political furore.
Sania Mirza and Bruno Soares pose with the US Open mixed doubles trophy at the Unisphere in New York on Friday. Pic/Getty Images
Friday night, the first-time combination of Sania and Brazil's Bruno Soares clicked brilliantly as they secured a close win in the final to win the mixed doubles trophy.
"I am very happy, it's great to win it with Bruno. For the first time we played together, it's been great two weeks. I dedicate this victory to everybody in India, my country, and to the state of Telangana and all people of Telangana," Sania told PTI from New York after winning the final.
'A dream come true'
"I am extremely ecstatic, it's a dream come true, hopefully many more will come," said the 27-year-old. Sania's third career Grand Slam came barely a month after she was branded 'daughter-in-law' of Pakistan by a BJP leader due to her marriage with cricketer Shoaib Malik.
The comment was triggered by the Telangana government's decision to appoint her brand ambassador of the newly-created state. The Hyderabadi was forced to issue a statement to assert her roots and was seen breaking down on news channels while trying to do so.
'Don't focus on negatives'
Asked if the controversy played on her mind during the US Open campaign, Sania said she believes in moving forward and remains focussed on her game after stepping into the court.
"I don't think we should focus on the negatives," said Sania, who is first Indian female player and only the third from the country after Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes to have won Grand Slam titles. Sania had played the previous three Grand Slams of the season with Romanian partner Horea Tecau but was forced to split as desired results did not come.
Sania said the efforts to team up with Bruno started after the Wimbledon defeat. "We happened to meet after Wimbledon and he asked if we could play. Me and Bruno had different partners, we messaged each other, spoke to each other and one thing led to another," she explained.