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Sania Mirza Biography



Coached by her father Imran Mirza, Sania, a Muslim, began playing tennis at the age of six, turning professional in 2003. " My mother took me to a coach, who initially refused to coach me because I was too small," said Mirza, who is 5 ft. 7 in. tall. "After a month, he called my parents to say he'd never seen a player that good at such a young age." WTA interview.
Mention has to be made about the role played by the Chairman of the GVK Group. When Sania sought sponsorship (financial) during the initial stages of her career, the Chairman asked Sania to play with him during his morning tennis practice. The Chairman was well-pleased with her playing skills and granted her sponsorship at a crucial time in her career. She is the highest ranked female tennis player ever from India - ranked 31 in singles and 109 in doubles by mid-October 2005. Her original goal had been to enter the top 100 by the end of 2005, but she revised this to entering the top 50 after good performances at the beginning of the year. As of October 2005, she also ranked 2nd among Asian women. Her year-end rank in 2004 was 206.


She became the first Indian woman to reach the 4th round of a Grand Slam tournament at the 2005 US Open, defeating Mashona Washington, Maria Elena Camerin and Marion Bartoli. Having secured a wild card entry to the 2005 Australian Open Mirza reached the third round, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams.

On February 12, 2005, she became the first Indian woman to win a WTA singles title defeating Alyona Bondarenko of Ukraine in the Hyderabad Open Finals.

Sania won the Wimbledon Championships Girls' Doubles title in 2003, teaming up with Alisa Kleybanova of Russia.

Accolades


Mirza has earned a large fan following in India as she is one of the very few young women from that country to have done well at the highest levels of sport. The media termed the phenomenon Sania Mania. She reportedly has sponsorships to the tune of U.S. $ 0.35 million per brand per annum. In 2005, she was awarded the Arjuna award in tennis for the year 2004. The Government of India honoured her with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in 2006. She has defeated two top 10 players, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova.


Watching her performance in Acura Classics, tennis legend Pancho Segura, Ecuador-born American player who roamed the courts in the 1940s and 50s, felt that Sania's hard-hitting game resembled that of Romanian tennis legend Ilie Nastase - Segura said that Mirza had a natural way of hitting the ball and that she hit it hard, like Nastase.


Mirza is also the first Indian sportswoman to feature on the cover of Time magazine (South Asian edition) and was included in its 2005 list of Asia's 50 heroes.








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