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Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza is the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam in the tennis history.

india Updated: Jul 07, 2003 19:55 IST

India's tennis circles are celebrating and so is Imran Mirza'shousehold in Hyderabad with 16-year-old Sania Mirza becoming the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam event at Wimbledon.

"I have no words to describe how thrilled I am over her achievement. It is a dream come true," said a proud Mirza, minutes after his daughter triumphed in the girls' doubles event at Wimbledon on Sunday, partnering Russian Alisa Kleybanova.

Imran Mirza, who followed the match on Internet, said that he knew Sania would fight back after losing the first set to Katerina Bohmova of Czech Republic and Michaela Krajicek of the Netherlands.

The Indo-Russian pair went on to win the final 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

An Indian girl was playing in a Grand Slam final after 51 long years. Sania's predecessor was Rita Dabur, who was runner-up in the singles event in 1952.

"Now I want her to focus on singles and win a singles title," said Mirza, who gave Sania her first tennis racket when she was just six.

"She should be ready for professional tennis when she turns 18," added the triumphant father who played cricket at university level.

Sania, a Class 12 student, told her father over phone from London that this was the best moment of her career.

"Winning a Wimbledon title is the ultimate goal of any tennis player and this is what she has achieved," said Mirza.

For Sania -- now number one in the world junior doubles ranking -- the victory in the final was also the sweet revenge for the defeat Bohmova and Krajicek inflicted on her in the semi-finals of the French Open last month when she partnered Sanaa Bhambri.

Seven-year old sister Anam was also elated over her sister's victory.

Sania's pursuit of tennis fame has meant that her mother, Naseema, has been travelling with her leaving Anam behind. The star had once said that whatever she achieved would be because of the sacrifices being made by her sister and parents.

The achievements are on their way. And the accolades came from all over.

A visibly happy, Sania's coach Narendernath said, "This is a dream come true for Indian tennis and Sania's family."

The overjoyed coach said he hoped that her achievement would boost women's tennis in the country.

Former Davis Cup player SP Misra said, "She did the country proud. It is the greatest achievement considering the fact that she and her partner bounced back after losing the first set."

He also hoped that Sania would go on to win a singles title. She lost in the second round in the singles at Wimbledon.

According to Mirza, Sania's coaching at CGK Bhupathi's academy in Bangalore, where she has been going since January 2002, helped improve her game.

It was in 2001 when Sania did India proud by becoming the youngest ever Indian to figure in the main draw of the girls' junior Wimbledon tennis championship. She was then a little over 14 years old.

Sania, who learnt tennis at Sinnet Academy in Secunderabad, prefers grass to clay.

According to observers, the youngster's never-say-die spirit helped her win 10 singles and 13 doubles titles since she arrived on the international junior tennis scene three years ago.

She has also won three senior singles titles and two senior doubles title on WTA tour.

Her first singles title was Indian ITF Tournament in 2000 and first doubles title was Pakistan International Junior Championship in 1999. She also won the singles and doubles title at Pakistan International Junior Championship in 2000.

Born on November 15, 1986 at Mumbai, Sania was eight when pundits spotted her at a tournament in Karnataka. Since then, her parents and coaches groomed her tennis career in a city, which till last year lacked a synthetic court.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

First Published: Jul 07, 2003 00:00 IST