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Sania Mirza (born 15 November 1986) is an Indian professional tennis player who is currently ranked No. 1 in the women’s doubles rankings.From 2003 until her retirement from singles in 2013, she was ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association as India’s No. 1 player, both in singles and doubles. Throughout her career, Mirza has established herself as the most successful female Indian tennis player ever and one of the highest-paid and high-profile athletes in the country.
In her singles career, Mirza has notable wins over Svetlana Kuznetsova,Vera Zvonareva and Marion Bartoli; as well as former world No. 1s Martina Hingis, Dinara Safina, and Victoria Azarenka. She is the highest-ranked female player ever from India, peaking at world No. 27 in singles in mid-2007; however, a major wrist injury forced her to give up her singles career and focus on the doubles circuit, where she is currently ranked No. 1. She has achieved a number of firsts for women’s tennis in her native country, including surpassing US$1 million in career earnings (now over $6 million), winning a Pro-level title, and winning six major titles (three each in women’s doubles and in mixed doubles), as well as qualifying for (and eventually winning) the WTA Finals in 2014 alongside Cara Black, defending the title the following year partnering with Martina Hingis.
In addition, she is the third Indian woman in the Open Era to feature and win a round at a Grand Slam tournament (going as far as the last 16). She has also won a total of 14 medals (including 6 Gold) at three major multi-sport events, namely the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Afro-Asian Games.
Mirza was named one of the “50 Heroes of Asia” by Time in October 2005. In March 2010, The Economic Times named Mirza in the list of the “33 women who made India proud”. She was appointed as the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia during the event held to mark the International Day To End Violence Against Women on 25 November 2013. She was named in Time magazine’s 2016 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Sania Mirza was born in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India on 15 November 1986, to Imran Mirza, a builder, and his wife Naseema, who worked in a printing business. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to Hyderabad where she and younger sister Anam were raised in a religious Shi’a Muslim family. She is the distant relative of former cricket captains Ghulam Ahmed of India, and Asif Iqbal of Pakistan. She took up tennis at the age of six. She has been coached by her father and also Roger Anderson.
She attended Nasr School in Hyderabad and later graduated from St. Mary’s College. Mirza received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the MGR Educational and Research Institute University in Chennai on 11 December 2008. She is also a very good swimmer.
Mirza is an offensive baseliner with very powerful groundstroke and is known for setting up good attacks with the sheer velocity of her groundstrokes. Her main strength is herforehand, as well as her volleying skills. Her power game has drawn comparisons to Romanian legend Ilie Năstase. She is also a great returner of serve finding many return winners during matches. Mirza goes for winners, which means she goes for lots of angles. Mirza has said that “There’s no doubt that my forehand and backhand can match anyone, it’s about the place that they’re put in. I can hit the ball as hard as anyone can”. “I’m not that fast on my feet”, she added as her most evident weakness is her movement around the court, where Mirza usually struggles moving up and around the court. Mirza’s second serve and relatively poor mobility are often quoted as her big weaknesses. But by 2012, a series of injuries had effectively ended her singles career.
In 2009, Sania Mirza became engaged to childhood friend Sohrab Mirza, a millionaire businessman. However the wedding was called off shortly after. On 12 April 2010, she married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik in a traditional Muslim wedding ceremony at the Taj Krishna Hotel in Hyderabad, India followed by Pakistani wedding customs for a mahr of 6.1 million (US$137,500).Their Walima ceremony was held in Lahore, Pakistan.
The online attention the wedding received made Mirza the most searched woman tennis player and Indian sportsperson in 2010, according to Google Trends. The wedding was even more controversial because Malik was accused by another girl of already being married to her and hence he could not marry Mirza without first divorcing her. Initially for many days, Malik refused to grant the divorce claiming he was never married and as this resulted in media attention, he finally divorced the girl.
Currently, Mirza is the brand ambassador for the Indian state of Telangana.
Sania has established a tennis academy in Hyderabad. Former world no. 1s and multilple Grand Slam winners Cara Black and Martina Navratilova have both visited the academy on different occasions.
Sania Mirza was announced as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia. She is the first South Asian Woman to be appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador in the organization’s history.