Sania Mirza won the Inspirational Icon award at the Sportstar Aces Awards at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai on Monday.
When Mirza bid goodbye to tennis at WTA Dubai Open earlier this month, she left an inspirational legacy and set a daunting benchmark with her stupefying string of achievements in a career lasting close to three decades.
Not many in Indian sport could have warded off the challenges Sania encountered - on the court or off it.
The illustrious career of Mirza and the indelible impact she has left on Indian tennis doesn’t come as a surprise for those who followed her career right from when she was eight and started playing age-group tournaments on the dusty clay courts of Gymkhana Ground in Secunderabad under the watchful eyes of her father-cum-mentor Imran Mirza.
One of the most amazing chapters in Mirza’s career is marked by the way she fought back from a six-month break because of a wrist injury in 2008. This was after she was ranked World No. 27 a few months earlier!
She came back to dominate the sport and completed a rich haul of six Grand Slam titles, eight Asian Games medals (including two gold), and two Commonwealth Games medals.
When many had written her off after she got married, Mirza served another reminder - that she was a fighter par excellence and her passion for the sport couldn’t be diminished.
The world No.1 ranking for an Indian woman tennis player was beyond the realms of imagination but Mirza showed that she belonged to a different category when she became the top-ranked women’s doubles player on April 13, 2015 and held on to that spot for a stunning 91 weeks.
Former India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, former India hockey captain M. M. Somaya, chess great Viswanathan Anand, former India football skipper Bhaichung Bhutia, Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra and Olympians Anjali Bhagwat and Aparna Popat are the members of the Sportstar Aces 2023 jury.
The event is supported by IDFC First Bank, Indian Oil, India Cements, United India, Ramaiah University, Experimenta Science Center GD Naidu Charity, Finolex Pipes, LIC, BPCL, Samsonite, Big Basket, Nippon Paint, CRICHQ, Wordswork, NewsX and Casagrand.
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