Sania, Leander, Sumit: India's three musketeers deliver at Wimbledon
Wimbledon 2015 saw India's biggest tennis haul to date, with a vintage Leander Paes clinching his 16th Grand Slam trophy, winning the mixed doubles of the Wimbledon Championship with the legendary Martina Hingis, Sania Mirza winning the women's doubles and Sumit Nagal winning the boys' doubles title.tennis Updated: Jul 13, 2015 14:38 IST
The celebrations started on Saturday and continued till late on Sunday. For Indians, tennis has always been synonymous with the hallowed greens of Wimbledon.
After a triple triumph at the grass-court Grand Slam, congratulations started pouring in for the players in the limelight.
As Wimbledon entered the second week, Roger Federer and Serena Williams took centre stage. The questions doing the round were: “Would he win his 18th? Would the Serena Slam be complete?”
But for India, there were other reasons to watch the Big W: Sania Mirza and Leander Paes’ blossoming partnership with Martina Hingis in the women’s and mixed doubles, respectively, and in the juniors, 17-year-old Sumit Nagal inching his way up the draw.
Leander Paes of India and Martina Hingis of Switzerland pose with the winners' trophies after winning the mixed doubles final of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships. (Reuters Photo)
Let’s start with Sania Mirza. At 28, she became the first Indian to win a women’s doubles Grand Slam. It was the summer of 2003 when her junior girls’ doubles triumph at Wimbledon catapulted her to fame.
And 12 years later, things came full circle when she and Hingis lifted their maiden Slam as a team. Rackets flew from their hands as they jumped in joy and the crowd applauded having survived the tense final.
No matter what Mirza achieves after this, she already has the world’s No 1 ranking, having become the first Indian woman to achieve that earlier in the year along with three other Slam trophies in mixed doubles. She will always be a Wimbledon champion in the minds of Indian tennis fans.
"Every kid that picks up a tennis racquet this is about winning Wimbledon or playing at Wimbledon one day.
"I hope it inspires a lot of girls and makes them believe they can be Grand Slam champions too," Mirza said.
After the historic triumph on Saturday, it was youngster Nagal’s turn to go into the record books. He and partner Nam Hoang Ly of Vietnam lifted the boys’ doubles trophy.
Sumit Nagal made it into the history books by becoming the sixth Indian to win a junior title at Wimbledon (HT Photo)
Not only did Nagal become only the sixth Indian to ever win a junior Grand Slam, but having triumphed at Wimbledon was the icing on the cake. "It’s a fabulous feeling to win a Wimbledon title. I never thought I would do anything like this ever," he said.
The 17-year-old Nagal and Ly, seeded eighth, defeated the American-Japanese fourth seeds in just about an hour.
The New Delhi-born, right-handed player had also entered the boys' singles competition. However, he was ousted from the category in only the opener when he lost to Argentinean Juan Pablo Ficovich in three sets.
It was Paes’ turn to shine following Nagal’s heroics. At 42, there’s no inkling of his slowing down as his aim is a seventh Olympics next year.
A statistically minded Paes clinched his 16th Grand Slam trophy, winning the mixed doubles of the Wimbledon Championship with the legendary Martina Hingis through a dominating victory over Alexander Peya and Timea Babos in London.
The Indo-Swiss combine, having partnered earlier in the year to win the Australian Open, showed no fear while clinching their second mixed doubles Slam without dropping a set.
"Coming out and playing like that on one of the most prestigious courts that we've grown up with and winning a title like that, again for the second time in a Grand Slam without losing a set, that is really special," Paes said after the Wimbledon crown.
There’s no doubt that this triple treat has surpassed past Indian performances at Wimbledon but with the response and adulation this has brought, one needs to realise how much tennis has grown in the country.
This was India's most significant triumph at the All England Lawn Tennis Club since Vijay Amritraj's two quarter final appearances in 1973, when he lost to eventual champion Jan Kodes, and in 1981 when he was beaten by his rival Jimmy Connors in a five-set thriller.Not only will these accomplishments benefit Indian tennis but they will help the next generation believe that they too can rise to the top.
Sania Mirza celebrates after winning her first women's doubles title at Wimbledon. (HT Photo)