Sania Mirza is with a good attitude, ambition and magic forehand for playing tennis. She is the bright teenager who generates electricity on tennis courts. She is the first Indian since Ramesh Krishnan to break into the top 50. She is the new player whose go-for-brake game has veterans in awe and opponents in shock. She is the tennis prodigy who is the fastest climber on the WTA ranking list. She moved an incredible 270 places in the short period of 20 months. She is the only who was allowed to play her matches on the courts because of the huge interest of TV viewers worldwide. She is also one who prompted world No. 2 Maria Sharapova to remark after their match “She is great for the sport. She has great future ahead of her and has a big game.”
At a time when her contemporaries are making their debut on college campuses Sania Mirza is taking the International tennis world by storm. Mirza who broke into the top 50 in August 2005 has already notched up two victories over top 10 players this season stunned Swetlana Kuzhetsova in the Dubai and crushed world No. 9 Nadia Petrova at San Deigo before losing in the final of Forest Hills classic in New York. Mirza has earned a total of (Rs. 47 lacs) including 70000 dollar for reaching the fourth round of the US open. Her career earnings stand at 215293 dollar per year.
Her phenomenal success is in breathtakingly short span. There is the huge buzz around her each time she steps on the court, the growing legion of fans that show up at stadium all over the world. The fact that she was according to the WTA website, the third most photographed woman player in US open with refreshingly fresh approach to life and tennis not to mention the nose ring and earring, collection of T shirts she wears at a press conferences have all combined to create India’s hottest sporting icon compared to our pampered overrated cricketers, Mirza comes as a whiff of fresh air.
More than the performance is the attitude. An interesting aspect of her game is that she thinks every player is beatable. Sharapova is the glam girl of international tennis and very popular in the world but during her match against Sania the crowd was behind Sania and not behind Sharapova. Now Advertisers are getting behind her. For each endorsement she demands Rs. 1.5 crore. She has received lot of offers regarding endorsements and finalized a few of them.
She brought name and fame to the nation at the US open and on being questioned by a newspaper reporter she said, “I think I am very lucky to be an Indian”.
Indians had reason to have confidence in Mirza. This year in 2005 she reached the third round of Australian Open losing to eventual champion Serena William. After the first round exit from the courts in 2005, in French Open she bounced back to reach the second round of Wimbledon losing to Kuznetsova in a three setter. She set her clash with Sharapova. Expectations were high all around; nearly 50 reporters turned up for Mirza’s conference after her third round victory over Marian Bartoli in US open. Mirza who’s forehand lost the match but she won everyone heart. Sharapovas coach says, “The girl Sania is playing extremely well Maria is just hanging in there.” She is very dangerous especially when she is playing against higher ranked opponents. She is fearless about going for her shots. She actually believes that all her shots will go in.
About her Mirza says “I enjoy hitting the ball hard as I can. I enjoy taking risks and I believe that you always have to take risks.
One of the reasons for Mirza’s spectular rise is that she now has a full time travelling coach John Ferrington—a tour veteran and coach for nearly two decades. She is trying to break into top 10—no longer an unrealistic goal. Playing on the US open main court with all the capacity among all Grand Slams and against tournament favourite Sharapova, Mirza was not intimidated at all. “I was not nervous in the least, I had lot of fun out there. This is only first US Open. I don’t think I can ask for more.” Sania said after the match. Her coach says she absorbs a lot, she absorbs a lot, she listens very well and works hard that makes it easier. And she gives 100 per cent. I can’t ask for anything more. In fact, her innate strength is her supreme self-confidence, going for shots without worrying about losing a point or a game.
Mirza indicates most remarkable rise in Indian sport, from a virtual Dol unknown two years ago to someone with the status of a superstar and role model for millions of teenagers. In 2004 February, Mirza won her first WTA title before a home crowd in Hyderabad. At the French open, tha she made history becoming the first Indian women to earn a direct Grand Slam entry. After US open she was ranked 32 guaranteeing her entry into Grand Slam Champion-ship.
Mirza played her tournament on the ITF women’s circuit in India in 2002. She was just 14 and won nine matches over the next three years. She played almost exclusively on the ITF circuit, claiming 12 singles titles. Also in2003 she begged the Wimbledon junior doubles titles with Russian Alisa Klybnova. Before her the highest ranking reached by an Indian woman tennis player was 134 by Nirupama Vaidynath in 1997.