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            -By Haresh Ramchandani

           It's been six years since Sania Mirza, then 18, first made headlines with a stunning performance at the Australian Open in her debut at a Grand Slam tournament. But it seems like she has been around for much longer. In that span of time, Sania has gone from an unknown Indian teenager to one of India's favourite and most popular sporting icons to everyone's favourite punching bag. With all the controversies and the criticism that have surrounded her in the last few years, it's easy to forget the achievements of this enigmatic 24-year-old, by far, India's most successful women's tennis player and one of the most successful Indian athletes in our country's sporting history. For those with a short memory, here is a brief summary of her accolades.

  • First Indian woman to reach Top 100 in world rankings; was ranked a career-high No. 27 in 2007 in singles and No. 18 in doubles
  • First and only Indian woman to reach 4th round of a Grand Slam

  • First and only Indian woman to win a WTA singles title
  • Winner of 10 WTA doubles titles
  • Finished 5 of the last 6 seasons in WTA Top 100 singles rankings
  • $1.9 million in career prize money
  • Won Australian Open mixed doubles title in 2009 with Mahesh Bhupathi

  • Has wins over Martina Hingis, Nadia Petrova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Marion Bartoli and Shahar Peer in singles
  • At the 2006 Doha Asian Games, winner of the silver in the women's singles category and the gold in the mixed doubles partnering Leander Paes. Also part of the Indian women's team that won the silver in the team event.
  • At the 2010 Commonwealth Games, she lost to Australia's Anastasia Rodionova in the final. In doubles, she partnered with India's Rushmi Chakravarthi delete comma to win the bronze medal
  • At the 2010 Asian Games, she won the Bronze Medal in singles. In Mixed Doubles she partnered with India's Vishnu Vardhan and won a Silver Medal.

  • 2011 has begun on a promising note for the Indian. Her wrist seems to be holding up fine and she has improved her singles ranking from 166 to 99 and her doubles ranking from 61 to 33 in less than three months. Tennis India caught up with Sania for a quick chat via email.

How life has changed after marriage? Not too much has changed, actually comma but itís wonderful to have a husband, who understands and supports my career. We also do a lot of scheduling to ensure we spend as much time together as we possibly can!
How is the wrist holding up to competitive tennis at the highest level week-in week-out? So far so good by the grace of God!
Does the thought of re-injuring it ever distract you in the middle of a match? I am too focused in the middle of a match to worry about it, but it does bother me at other times.
Reaction to Justine Henin's retirement I felt privileged that I was fortunate enough to have played an all-time great player of her calibre in a Grand Slam event before she called it quits.
Did you always want to be a tennis player when you were growing up? I wanted to be a Doctor before wanting to be a tennis player.
If you were not a tennis player, then you would be... Maybe, a Doctor
If you were appointed Chief of Women's Rights in India, which areas of life would you first try to space here improve for women? I have already worked in some capacity to eradicate the barbaric practice of female infanticide and foetocide. I wish I could do more.
Three things that very few people know about you I don't like ice-creams, I'm a very emotional person comma and I lived in the U.S. when I was little.
Your proudest moment on court yet? Every time I've won a medal for my country and heard the National anthem while standing on the podium
Did you ever imagine that you would have achieved what you have so far in your career? It was just a dream that has come true.
On concentrating on doubles after some years to extend the longevity of your career That's something I haven't really thought about.
On playing the London Olympics in 2012 Very excited!
Most stressful aspect of being a professional tennis player? Constant travel and handling the pressure
What helped you remain positive when you were sidelined with injuries? My family and friends and my passion to play tennis.
What is the atmosphere inside the women's locker room? I do have a few very close friends but mostly very professional
Toughest opponent you have faced on court? I respect every professional tennis player.
A current player you have not played and would love to play against Kim Clijsters
If you could choose to play any one female legend from the past, who would that be? Steffi Graf
Role models in tennis Steffi Graf
How do you spend your time when you are not playing tournaments or practicing? Relaxing at home
Message for your fans and our readers of Tennis India magazine Thanks for all the love and support.


Favorite Surface Hard court
Favorite tennis shot Forehand
Favourite tournament Wimbledon
Favorite Music Bollywood
Favorite Book My Sister's Keeper
Favorite Movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Favorite TV Series Friends
Favorite cuisine Indian
Favorite men's player to watch Federer and Nadal
Favorite women's player to watch Steffi Graf
Sexiest men's player Let's talk cricket - Shoaib Malik!
Dream mixed doubles partner Federer
Best friends on the tour Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Elena Vesnina
Favourite fashion designer Shantanu-Nikhil and Dolce and Gabbana
Favourite cartoon character Tom and Jerry
Favourite city San Diego
Favourite colours Red and black

Tennis India magazine is dedicated to Late Shri Ch.V.K. Kamaraju, Tennis Official, Vizag