India’s very own tennis queen, Sania Mirza, turned 30 today and has reached yet another career high, completing 100 weeks as World No. 1 in the WTA doubles rankings. The most decorated female tennis star in the country, Sania had a great season in the past year, winning the Australian Open with Martina Hingis and maintaining her numero uno rank all through the year 2016, the first time in her career since taking the top spot in April 2015.
Let’s roll back in time and voyage across to present day, glancing at the best achievements of the tennis ace:
Sania started tennis-training at an early age of six, and turned pro in 2003 before announcing her presence on the junior circuit in quite some fashion. She won 10 singles and 13 doubles titles as a junior player, with the landmark victory coming at Wimbledon, where she, along with Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova staged a comeback after losing the first set, to go on and clinch the Girls’ Doubles trophy.
The 2004-2005 season played an instrumental role in the birth of a new tennis star from India. Sania made inroads into the senior circuit, by becoming the first woman from the country to win a WTA title after emerging as the champion at the Hyderabad Open.
Successively, she showcased some great performances through the remaining of the year, particularly at Forest Hills Tennis Classic, the US Open and the Japan Open. Overall, her exploits were enough for her to be named the “WTA Newcomer of the Year” in 2005.
Sania had won four doubles titles in 2007 and even made her breaktrough in terms of career ranking, when she was ranked number 27 in the world in 2008, however it was the Grand Slam which was still eluding her.
After tending to a wrist injury, she came back stronger and better than ever in the 2009 season, winning the mixed doubles at the Australian Open with partner and mentor Mahesh Bhupathi. With this win, she etched her name in the history books yet again, for being the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam.
Before tasting major success in 2013-14 season, Sania toiled hard on the tennis courts tending to injuries and improving upon her mediocre performances, focussing more on her doubles’ game while slowly beginning to overlook the singles tourney.
The lack of top-tier Grand Slam trophies in the cabinet seemed to come to an end with a string of wins which culminated in the Indo-Brazilian pair of Sania and Bruno Soares emerging as champions at the US Open in 2014.
The poster girl of Indian tennis then went ahead to spearhead the Indian attack at Asian Games in Incheon. And well, she led the pack by example, pairing with Saketh Myneni to defeat China's Hsien Yin Peng and Chan Hao-ching and clinch the gold in mixed doubles and also claiming the bronze medal in the womens’ doubles alongside Prarthana Thombare.
The year came to a close on yet another high for Sania, for she lifted the IPTL trophy in its inaugural edition with her team Indian Aces. She played the mixed doubles alongside Rohan Bopanna and also paired up with the legend Roger Federer in the Indian leg of the tournament, much to the delight of the fans. In the finals, the Indian Aces defeated the UAE Royals led by champion Novak Djokovic to claim the trophy.
Sania Mirza reached her career best World Number 1 ranking in April 2015 after pairing up with the Swiss legend Martina Hingis, to form a lethal combination. The pair, which became famous with the nickname of SanTina went unbeaten for 41 straight matches, and in the midst of all this, came their major Gland Slam victory in the form of the Wimbledon Championships in 2015.
The pair defeated Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in three tough sets in the final, to etch their name in the history books of the Championships.
On a victory run, the pair ran riot through their opponents, when they entered the US Open tournament as the top seeds and went on to win the title defeating Casey Dellacqua and Yaroslava Shvedova in the finals. In the year-end WTA finals, Sania and Hingis played true to their star status and did not lose a single set en route to the title.
Unlike all her trophies which were awarded to her on the tennis court, came forth India’s most coveted honour for sports persons, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award which was bestowed upon the fiery right-hander in 2015. With over a decade in international tennis, specially making her mark in the doubles arena, she has brought immense pride, glory and joy to a nation where she has become a tennis legend.
Sania picked up in 2016 right from where she had left off in 2015! Alongside Martina yet again, the pair showcased their prowess when they unleashed a fearless style of play to win the Australian Open in 2016. Their 41-match winning streak came to end with the Qatar Open and soon their formidable pairing.
Mirza then partnered with Barbora Strýcová at the Cincinnati Masters and the two won their debut tournament as a team. Sania despite an unsuccessful outing at the US Open with her new partner, is still ranked number 1 in the world, staying atop for a record 84 weeks now.