On top of the heap, Sania Mirza proves she made right choice

  • Sharmistha Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 13, 2015 15:34 IST

Just 58 minutes. That’s all it took Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis to pocket the Family Circle Cup at Charleston, their third title on the trot, on Sunday evening. But that’s not why fans will be celebrating. Come Monday, Sania will be No 1 in the WTA doubles ranking, the first Indian woman to do so.

“It’s a dream for every kid to be No 1,” said an overjoyed Sania after the Indo-Swiss top seeds defeated Casey Dellacqua and Darija Jurak 6-0, 6-4. “When we came here, we had one thing in mind, to get No 1, and she (Martina) really helped me get there. We also become the No 1 team in the world with this,” added the Indian.

Sania pockets 470 points to add to her existing 7495. It’s enough to jump past Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci who have 7640 points each.

Leading the way

Sania’s been a trailblazer since 2003. Growing up in the public eye, it takes a lot to keep your focus and not let negativity affect you. A simple online search will show you the numerous controversies she’s been embroiled in. “I’ve had to learn things the hard way,” she once said. She sure has. From being constantly questioned about her life choices and in tennis, her decision to focus solely on doubles from 2013, the 28-year-old has gone right ahead and done her own thing.

Injuries are part and parcel of an athlete’s life. Sania’s past battles with injures to the wrist and knees became the order of the day. But after three surgeries when her body could no longer cope with playing singles and doubles on tour, she had to make a tough choice – to stubbornly persist with singles and give up in just one year or succeed and do bigger things in doubles. She chose the latter. With five WTA women’s doubles titles in the breakthrough year, three more coupled with her third Grand Slam and the WTA year-ender in 2014 to pocketing three back-to-back titles this year so far – Sania made the right choice.

It was a matter of trial and error in the beginning. Her partnership with American Bethanie MattekSands bore results but once they decided to part, she found an equal in Zimbabwean Cara Black. After Black retired, Sania played a couple of tournaments with Hsieh Su-Wei. But it is with Hingis that Sania’s found the perfect match. They triumphed at Indian Wells without dropping a set, repeating the feat two weeks later in Miami. In Charleston, the duo was tested but they overcame whatever came their way.

She’s been called a rebel but Sania fails to understand why. “Would I have gotten married at 23 had I been one?” she once asked. Not a rebel but a fighter. From fighting with organisers when she was 14 to let her play in the Nationals to lifting her 26th WTA doubles title after fearing she would never be able to pick up a racquet in 2010. From becoming the first Indian woman to break the top-30 in singles in 2007 to winning three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, Sania’s come a long way and she’s nowhere close to calling it a day.


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