Serena Williams says Sania Mirza is a much improved player now than she was two years ago, and the prospects of taking on the young rival on her home turf is a good enough reason for her to visit India.
"I saw Sania at the Australian Open and she played even better than when she played me in 2005. She is certainly a good player, a strong and solid player," the eight-time Grand Slam winner told reporters in a tele-chat from her home in Florida, USA, last evening.
The former world number one, who made a robust return from a lengthy injury lay-off by winning the Australian Open last month, will be the main attraction at the $175,000 Sony Ericsson International women's event in Bangalore beginning on February 12.
Serena said Sania, the first Indian woman to win a singles title, need not be apprehensive about being in the same half of the draw as her.
"She is a strong player and it will be interesting to play her on her turf," she said.
"Indian tennis seems to be all about Sania and I want to see all that. I am really excited about coming to India." The Australian Open was her first Grand Slam win in two years and it saw the American jump from 85 to 14 in world rankings.