Tennis star Sania Mirza gets Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 29, 2015 22:40 IST
Tennis player Sania Mirza receives Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award from President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

Tennis star Sania Mirza, who won the Wimbledon women's doubles title recently, was on Saturday conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.

Mirza became the second tennis player to receive the country's highest sporting honour after Leander Paes.

President Pranab Mukherjee presented the National Sports Awards for 2014-15 at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Currently ranked the World No. 1 tennis doubles player in the women's category, Mirza on Friday expressed her happiness at receiving the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and dedicated it to her family and to India.

"I feel very happy, privileged and honoured to receive this award and I would like to dedicate it to the people of India and my family," Mirza said.

The World No. 1 also extended her gratitude to the Indian government and the sports ministry for nominating her for the award.

Mirza received a medal, certificate and cash prize of Rs. 7.5 lakh. She had flown in just to receive the award ahead of the US Open starting in New York on Monday.

Seventeen other sportspersons including cricketer Rohit Sharma, shooter Jitu Rai, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, hockey player PR Sreejesh, wrestling duo of Bajrang and Babita, athlete MR Poovamma, shuttler K Srikanth and boxer Mandeep Jangra got the 2015 Arjuna award.

The Arjuna awardees received statuettes, certificates and an award money of Rs.5 lakh each.

The officially announced winners for the Dronacharya award 2015 are: Coach Anoop Singh for wrestling, Harbans Singh for athletics, Swatantar Raj Singh for boxing, Nihar Ameen for swimming and Naval Singh for athletics - para-sports.

The Dhyan Chand award for lifetime achievement was announced for Shiv Prakash Misra.

The award to Mirza came after the Karnataka high court on Wednesday issued a notice to the sports ministry for naming the ace tennis star for the coveted award.

City-based Paralympic Games medallist HR Girisha filed a writ petition in the high court against the ministry and the 28-year-old Mirza over her selection this year for the prestigious award although she is ranked world number one in women's doubles.

The criterion for the award is the performance of a sportsperson in international events such as Olympics, Paralympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships since 2011.

"Girisha deserved to win Khel Ratna as he is a rightful contender with 90 points during the year under reference for the selection, as he had won silver medal in the 2012 London Paralympics," counsel MS Shamsundar said.

Girisha also told the court that the Hyderabadi became world number one in women's doubles only after winning the 2015 Wimbledon Championships title as a partner with Martina Hingis of Switzerland and is not successful in singles.

"How was Sania's latest achievement factored for the award, as it (Wimbledon) was not in the sporting events specified in the official notification for this year's Khel Ratna's nominations," Shamsundar contended.

According to the ministry's notification, only performances at Olympics, Paralympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships since 2011 will be considered for the top award, while Sania had won the Grand Slam in 2015.

Sania made history by becoming the first Indian to win a women's doubles Grand Slam title by clinching the Wimbledon trophy in London on July 11.

Sania is the second tennis player to be named for the top award after Leander Paes, who was bestowed the honour in 1996 after he won the bronze medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the US.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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