Sania may finally get the respect she truly deserves
From criticism about her dress code to her tying the knot to a man from the 'other side of the border,' Sania has had to live with the baggage for quite some time.
Abu Dhabi - Some love her, some hate her. There has never been any middle ground about Sania Mirza. They liked her for her stunning looks and a bit of her tennis. She was the poster girl, the Anna Kournikova, if you like, until she became 'Pakistan's daughter-in-law.'
She was loathed by what we call a liberal India. From criticism about her dress code to her tying the knot to a man from the 'other side of the border,' Sania has had to live with the baggage for quite some time.
True, she has won many titles, made India proud and has been the flag bearer for women's tennis in India. But bouquets and brickbats have perennially gone hand in hand for Sania.
But on the evidence of what unfolded at the SW19 on Saturday night, Sania may finally get the due respect she truly deserves.
Sania, on Saturday, scaled a new peak. She won the women's doubles title at Wimbledon.
Partnering 'Swiss Miss,' the former singles World No.1 Martina Hingis, the pair staged one of the stirring fightbacks on the hallowed lawns of the Wimbledon Centre Court, to eke their way into history books.
It has been a long road for the 28-year-old Sania, so to speak. She has won mixed doubles titles at Grand Slams, but this has been the culmination of all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that Sania has put in on the WTA Tour, after a major wrist injury had cut short her singles career.
Sania took to the sport when she was six before turning professional in 2003. Sania went on to win 10 singles and 13 doubles titles as a junior. Her standout performance during her early years was the girls doubles title at Wimbledon, the same year she turned professional.
In 2005, Sania became the first Indian woman to win a WTA title when she clinched the AP Tourism Hyderabad Open.
It was to be no fluke as Sania reached her second WTA final at the 2005 Forest Hills Tennis Classic. Sania reached the fourth round of the US Open to become the first Indian woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam, before losing to top seed Maria Sharapova in the Round of 16. That earned her the WTA Newcomer of the Year.
Sania continued to fight it out on the Tour, juggling between singles and doubles before a dip in form and injury forced her to call it quits in the singles.
And Sania is now enjoying tremendous success in doubles in what could be termed as a second coming. She reached the semifinals at the Australian Open in 2012 as well as the US Open in 2013 and 2014.
Sania is the world No.1 in the doubles, a position she reached in April.
Her husband Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik, who is currently on tour in Sri Lanka, was pleased to see his wife do well.
"So proud of her. The high level determination, discipline, focus, & big dreams that athletes r made of @MirzaSania," Malik tweeted.
If only fans could be even more proud of Sania.