“I was so glad because not just the country, the media, everyone supported me.”
Sania Mirza of India has attained rapid success on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) circuit, with her unique style and spunky attitude.
Despite having her whole life lived out under the public gaze, Sania has broken record after record.
Mirza made the entire world sit up and take notice when she became the first Indian woman to win a WTA title and be ranked among the World’s Top 30 singles players. On 12 April 2015, she recreated history by becoming the World No. 1 in tennis doubles.
Having played for over a decade, there is more to her than just a racquet. Sania is a fashionista, humanitarian, teacher and a sporting legend.
Sania was born on November 15, 1986, in Mumbai to former sports journalist Imran Mirza and his wife Naseema, who had experience in the printing industry.
The family later moved to Hyderabad where Sania and her young sister Anam were brought up.
At the age of six, Sania took up the sport of tennis. Mirza was initially trained and guided by her father Imran and South African coach Roger Anderson. Imran has remained coaching Sania and frequently travels with her across the globe.
Sania studied at the Nasr School, before completing her graduation from Saint Mary’s College in Hyderabad.
Mirza who is known for her powerful and accurate forehand won 10 singles and 13 doubles titles at junior level. Making her professional debut in 2003, Sania always had dreamt of winning grand slam titles.
Speaking to the media a youthful Sania said: “Hopefully one day I can win Wimbledon, but I’ll take any Slam that I can.”
Watch our Exclusive Gupshup with Sania Mirza here:
In 2005, Sania made history, as she became the first woman from India to win a WTA title and that too in her hometown (Hyderabad Open). The same year she also reached the fourth round of the US Open.
Mirza set an example from an early age; winning three major awards in three successive years. In 2004 she received the prestigious Arjuna Award, followed by the WTA new comer of the year award in 2005. In 2006 she was conferred with the Padma Shree Award.
Acknowledging the encouragement she received, Sania said: “I was so glad because not just the country, the media, everyone supported me.”
On the tennis court, Mirza kept climbing the ladders of success as she reached a career high singles ranking of 27 by 2007.
Throughout her singles career she defeated some of the biggest names in world tennis, including Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) and former World No. 1 Martina Hingis (SUI).
Off the court Sania became a glamour player, modelling for a number of brands. By wearing the nose ring, Mirza was seen as a fashion and style icon for many young girls across the subcontinent.
Sania’s tennis attire became a point of controversy for some hardliners, but she gracefully carried on with her career.
Her open discussion about safe sex also angered some members of the South Asian Community. Though she clarified later saying she was not in favour of pre-marital sex.
With so much controversy behind her, Mirza quickly understood that by being a popular star, there was a tremendous amount of responsibility resting on her shoulders.
From a personal perspective, Sania got engaged to her childhood friend Sohrab Mirza in 2011. But later the marriage was called off.
After being romantically linked with other stars, on 12 April 2012, she tied the knot with Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik.
In an exclusive conversation with DESIblitz.com, Sania told how life has changed after marriage saying: “It has made me more patient I must say.”
In reply to a question about the couple’s gruelling schedule and visiting Sasural, Mirza said:
“I go Pakistan every few months. Its tough for both of us to manage to come to Pakistan, for him to come to India because we are travelling all the time. We always knew this was how life was going to be.”
Very few people know that Sania is also an exceptional swimmer. She is related to former Pakistan cricket captain Asif Iqbal and Indian Ghazal singer Talat Aziz.
Mirza has achieved name and fame through sheer dedication and hard work, along with support from her family.
From 2003 to 2013 she actively played in the singles competition, before forcing to retire from this format due to constant injury issues. Post 2013 she solely concentrated on her doubles game.
With compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi, she won the Australian Open (2009) and French Open (2012) in the Mixed Doubles competition. In 2014, Sania and doubles partner Bruno Soares (BRA) clinched the US Open Mixed Doubles title.
Outside of the Grand Slams, the Hyderabad Hurricane showed her muscles as she became the World’s No. 1 Doubles player, courtesy of her third consecutive title in 2015.
The Indian ace accomplished this amazing feat by winning the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, USA alongside Swiss doubles partner Hingis.
Other notable honours and recognitions to her name include: UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia and Brand Ambassador for Telangana.
Investing at the grassroots level, Sania established her very own tennis academy in March 2013. Based in Murthuzaguda, Mirza’s dream project is acting as a hub to encourage young aspiring tennis players.
Highlighting her social contribution, Sania’s role model Sachin Tendulkar said:
“You have been instrumental in inspiring the new generation to pick up a tennis racket and hit a few balls and dream of playing for India.”
Sania has no immediate plans of retiring as she is enjoying her tennis at the moment and planning to release her much awaited autobiography.