Sania Mirza selected for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award
India's shining tennis star, Sania Mirza, has become the second tennis player in history to get recommended for the country's highest honor in sports - the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.
Other sporting legends who have received the Khel Ratna include Saina Nehwal, Abhinav Bindra, MC Mary Kom and Gagan Narang. However, in the domain of tennis Leander Paes is the only other player to have received the Khel Ratna so far.
Paes received the award in 1996 after winning a bronze medal in singles at the Olympics.
Wrangles over the recommendation of names for the Khel Ratna have been common over the past couple of years. But this year, Mirza's recommendation was a unanimous choice and came straight from the Sports Ministry.
Mirza is currently World number one in the women's doubles chart. She is also the first tennis player from India to win a women’s doubles Grand Slam at the Wimbledon partnering with legendary Swiss player, Martina Hingis.
For this year’s Arjuna award, the other most prestigious sports honor, 17 names are on the list. The award honors the achievement of athletes in national sporting events.
India's Sports Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, is going to take the final decision on the names. President Pranab Mukherjee will give the awards on National Sports Day, August 29.
The Khel Ratna, other than a citation, also includes a monetary reward of Rs. 7.5 lakh and a supplement sponsorship deal. The Arjuna award includes Rs. 5 lakh as prize money.
Mirza received the Arjuna award back in 2004. Her name was a favorite choice for this year's award as well. Mirza also received the Padma Shri in 2006 which is India's fourth highest civilian honor.
Mirza also won the bronze medal and the gold medal in the women's doubles and mixed doubles categories respectively at the 2014 Asian Games. Most of Mirza's major achievements have been in the doubles category.
Despite Mirza's massive success, she has also had to deal with many controversies. However, nothing has ever managed to bog down her spirits and she continues to be one of the most inspiring women in the country.