Sania Mirza is going to be a part of a very strong contingent of over 115 athletes for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which will begin on 23rd July. The contingent has athletes of varied age groups and experience.
India has some great young athletes like Neeraj Chopra (Athletics), Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary (Shooting), who have come up in the last 2-3 years and are touted as the biggest medal prospects going into the Tokyo Olympics.
On the other hand, there are old war horses like MC Mary Kom (Boxing), Sanjeev Rajput (Shooting) and Sania Mirza (Tennis), who will be looking to end their careers on a high, by winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
For most of the Indian athletes though, it will be either their 1st or 2nd Olympic Games. There are a few, like Deepika Kumari (Archery) and Sanjeev Rajput (Shooting) who will be competing in the 3rd Olympics of their career.
Only two athletes from the entire Indian contingent will be competing in the the 4th Games of their career, at the Tokyo Olympics. They are Sania Mirza (Tennis) and Seema Punia (Athletics).
In this article, we take a look at the journey of Sania Mirza in the Olympics thus far, and try and analyze her medal winning prospects at the Tokyo Olympics.
Sania Mirza (Tennis)
Participating Event: Women's Doubles Tennis
Sania Mirza has been the best female player in the history of Indian tennis. She started her career as a teenage sensation in women's singles and from there on her career has come a long way, through many ups and downs.
Over the years she has established herself as one of the best women's doubles players, by winning multiple Grand Slam doubles events and becoming the number 1 ranked doubles player in the world.
Sania Mirza's performance in previous Olympic appearances
In the Olympics, Sania has been representing India for the last two decades. However, an Olympic medal is still missing for her cabinet.
She first played in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the Women's Singles and Doubles event. In the singles event she lost in the very 1st round in straight sets. In the doubles she partnered with Sunita Rao and reached the 2nd Round before losing out to the Russian pair of Dinara Safina and Swetlana Kuznetsova (6-4, 6-4).
Sania's performance was very disappointing in Beijing as she could not perform as per her potential.
In her 2nd Olympics at London in 2012, Sania Mirza played in the Women's Doubles and Mixed Doubles events. In the women's doubles event, she partnered with Rushmi Charkavarty and crashed out in the very first round.
In the mixed doubles, she paired up with the legendary Leander Paes. They were touted as one of the favorites. However, they could not live up to expectations, as they lost in the quarter finals to the eventual champions Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus (7-5,7-6).
Sania played in her 3rd Olympics in Rio in 2016, when she was in top form. In Rio, she partnered with another Doubles specialist, Rohan Bonappa, in Mixed Doubles.
This was Sania's best chance of winning an Olympic medal for sure. She reached the semifinals and came tantalizingly close to winning her maiden Olympic medal, but fell short at the very last moment after losing two back-to-back matches in the semifinals and the bronze medal playoff match.
In the women's doubles too, she could not proceed beyond the 1st round. Thus Sania failed to win an Olympic medal in her three consecutive attempts.
What are Sania Mirza's prospects of winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics
In the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, Sania will be participating in only the women's doubles event. She will be partnering with the young and talented Ankita Raina. Sania was able to qualify for the event based on her protected ranking (No 9), which she had before taking her 2 year long break from tennis due to motherhood.
Sania will not be competing in the mixed doubles event at the Tokyo Olympics because none of the Indian male tennis players have qualified for the Games.
At the Tokyo Olympics, winning a medal will not be a very easy task for this Indian pair because of two main reasons. Sania and Ankita did not play with each other enough. Thus, combining well might become an issue.
Moreover, Sania, the most accomplished of the two, is making a comeback after almost 2 years and she might not be at her best in such a short time.
However, considering Sania's experience and big match temperament, Indian fans would hope that she can bring out her best when needed and win her maiden Olympic medal at the Tokyo Olympics.