The hunger for success remains

A champion back home...Sania Mirza, who won the mixed doubles title with Bruno Soares of Brazil, with her family on arrival at the Hyderabad airport.-PICS:V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

The mixed doubles title at the U.S. Open could not have come at a better time for Sania Mirza. “It is the kind of victory that should help me redraw my goals on the circuit. A performance that reminds me that I can still mean business in the big league,” she says. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Sania Mirza’s beaming face on arrival in Hyderabad said it all. The 27-year-old player, who won her third Grand Slam title, the U.S. Open mixed doubles, with Bruno Soares of Brazil as her partner, said the victory is another significant achievement in her career that should serve a reminder to her detractors that she is still capable of winning at the highest level.

“I repeat, winning a Grand Slam title is the ultimate for any tennis player. And more so for me, as it is my first title at the U.S. Open. I will cherish this for a long, long time, for you don’t win such titles every day,” Sania said in an interview to Sportstar on arrival home.

“Yes, this Grand Slam title could not have come at a better time, for it is the kind of victory that should help me redraw my goals on the circuit. A performance that reminds me that I can still mean business in the big league,” said the player, who recently was named the Brand Ambassador of the newly formed Telangana State.

“I loved those winning moments in front of my family members (father Imran Mirza and sister Anam Mirza). In fact, my dad was there when I won the other Grand Slam titles. They know the pain I go through to stay focussed for months together on the circuit,” said Sania, who still moves around the world with one of her family members accompanying her.

Sania dedicated her mixed doubles title at the U.S. Open to her family that has been with her through difficult phases. “I would also like to dedicate this win to the people of India and the State of Telangana, for which I have been made the Brand Ambassador recently,” she said.

“The huge fan support is a big inspiration in my career. They have seen me go through the worst of crises, including career-threatening injuries. I just hope to stay fit without any injury scares and keep enjoying the sport and in the process bring more laurels to the country,” Sania remarked.

Talking of her future, Sania, who was once ranked World No. 27 in women’s singles before serious injuries forced her to shift to doubles, said she is happy that her new mixed doubles partner, Soares, has agreed to team up with her at the next year’s Australian Open too. “He has the terrific ability to come up with some stunning shots under pressure; he’s a very cool guy who could lift your mood and make you feel much better even when things are going wrong,” said Sania about her partner.

Sania Mirza says she would continue to play with Cara Black (in pic, right) of Zimbabwe in women's doubles. "This helps both of us, as we not only enjoy a wonderful chemistry on court but also understand each other very well," she explains.-

Sania, however, insisted that she would continue to play with Cara Black of Zimbabwe in women’s doubles. “This helps both of us, as we not only enjoy a wonderful chemistry on court but also understand each other very well. The other thing is that since we are aiming to play in the prestigious ATP World Finals (featuring the top eight singles and doubles players) in October, it is important for us to keep improving until that event. Right now we are ranked No. 4,” Sania explained.

“Honestly, I haven’t ever tried to silence my critics or those who express serious doubts about my ability to win big events. My focus has always been on training as hard as possible, staying injury-free and giving my best (in tournaments).

If the results are there, then everything will fall in place. However, we must remember it is not always easy to keep winning all the time. But, yes, I will not be found wanting in terms of giving my 100 per cent,” said Sania, who has won 20 WTA titles in all.

“Yes, I can say with a sense of pride that I have won a title in all the majors — the Australian, French, U.S. Open and Wimbledon (Sania won the junior doubles title in 2003). A performance which should make any Indian tennis player proud,” she said.

“It is a pity that I have to repeatedly remind (people) that I am a proud Indian. What more do you expect me to do for my country? I always feel proud to be an Indian. I just can’t understand why such crazy questions are asked despite giving so much to my country,” said Sania.

Talking of her tennis centre (Sania Mirza Tennis Academy), she said that another big goal in her career is to produce a champion. “We have put in place a truly world-class academy. While we make every effort possible to produce quality players, the onus is on them to rise to the occasion by making the optimum use of the facilities. We will continue to bring specialised coaches from abroad to fine tune the raw skills of the young talent,” said Sania.