‘I want to win more Grand Slams before retiring’
Sania, who recently became world number one, is a winner of three mixed doubles Grand Slam titles. “I love playing tennis. I love practicing and working hard. I love competing. Until I keep enjoying, I keep playing. I want to achieve. Obviously, there is never enough. If Roger Federer can still play today, everybody should play. I want to win some Slams before I retire. We have some big tournaments coming,” Sania said.
“I am going to Stuttgart on Sunday night,” she said on the sidelines of the Fed Cup, where she is leading India as playing captain. Replying to a query, she said she would continue to partner with Martina Hingis with whom she had a successful partnership.
She said her decision to get married in 2010 and shifting to doubles are the two most important decisions in her career. “In 2010, I thought my career was over. My wrist was bad and I was not even able to comb my hair. At that time, my tennis was out of question. So, one of my decisions was to get married. It took lot of things off me. I was happy in my life. Six months later, me and my husband were having a conversation and he said, ‘why don’t you try to play again?’ I went to Wimbledon and I won couple of rounds there. My wrist was better. That was, probably, one of the best decisions I made.
“Secondly, when I moved to doubles. It was a tough decision for me at that point. Because I had surgeries. So, I was not playing tennis at all or choosing one format. I think I would not have been able to get to the number one in the world if I was still playing singles,” she said.
She complemented India’s girl players like Ankita Raina who comprehensively defeated their rivals in the ongoing Fed Cup here. She said she is honoured to be the captain of the side in the Fed Cup. She said she would play in Fed Cup when it is needed and “there was no need now”.
Sania also hoped that young girls and women would be inspired to take up sports as a career. “Me and Saina having done this, I do hope that sports does become a career,” she said.
Nadal, Sania to lead Aces Indian Aces, the winners of the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), will be led by former world No.1 men’s singles player Rafael Nadal and current world No.1 women’s doubles player Sania Mirza. The Indian Aces will also have Agnieszka Radwanska, Gael Monfils, Ivan Dodig, Rohan Bopanna and Fabrice Santoro, all of whom were taken by the New Delhi-based franchise in the global player draft held here on Sunday for the second edition, scheduled from December 2 to December 20.
In the inaugural edition, 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer was part of the Aces team. Federer will play for UAE Royals this season. The Aces team retained the services of Monfils, Sania, Bopanna and Santoro for this edition. Nadal missed his date with the Aces in the last season due to an injury which forced him to withdraw from the competition.
Mirza pride of Pakistan too: Malik
Pakistan’s ex-cricket captain Shoaib Malik has said he was proud his Indian wife Sania Mirza had become the world’s top-ranked doubles tennis player, adding it was an honour for both countries. Mirza, 28, became the first Indian woman to achieve the feat after winning the Charleston title last Sunday while partnering with Swiss star Martina Hingis. “I am extremely proud and overwhelmed with joy,” Malik told AFP. “It’s a matter of pride for Pakistan as she is my wife and, of course, she is from India and she represents her nation with 100 per cent determination to be the best.” The celebrity couple, who wed in a series of lavish ceremonies across both countries in 2010, have been called South Asia’s answer to “Posh and Becks” – former English footballer David Beckham and his popstar wife Victoria.
Malik, who has been out of the Pakistan team for a year despite success at the domestic level, said Mirza’s victory would prove an inspiration for young fans. “It’s also a victory for all tennis players and tennis fans in India and Pakistan on what is possible with hard work at a global level,” he said. Malik said he had celebrated with his family after watching the match from his hometown of Sialkot in Pakistan before calling his in-laws in India to congratulate them. “I loved tennis before I married Sania, but now my heart is really in it. I watch her matches, and also those of her rivals to keep up to date. Also since most of the time she is playing I’m not with her, I watch also because I miss her a lot,” he said. The 33-year-old all-rounder, who has played 216 one-day internationals, 59 Twenty20s and 32 Tests, added he was working hard to make a comeback to the Pakistan national team.
Top of the world
Mirza began her 2015 season ranked No. 6 in the doubles. She started a new partnership with then world No. 5 Hsieh Su-wei from Chinese Taipei. The pair started their season at the Brisbane International as top seeds but lost in the semifinal to fourth seeds Caroline Garcia and Katarina Srebotnik. Mirza then paired up with former partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands of USA for the Apia International and went on to win the tournament for her 23th career title (5th with Mattek-Sands), beating top seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears in the final. Sania also reached the final of Qatar Ladies Open alongside Hsieh before losing to Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears.
Sania then teamed up with Swiss legend Martina Hingis. The pair entered Indian Wells as top seeds and went on to win the title on debut. Next they won the Miami Masters, beating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the final. The Indo-Swiss pair then entered Family Circle Cup as top seeds and the duo justified their top billing by winning the crown, blowing away Casey Dellacqua and Darija Jurak 6-0, 6-4 in the final. The win made Sania the first female tennis player from India to achieve world number one rank in doubles.