Sania Mirza – A name that has evoked millions of feelings of love, hate, anger as well as pride for the country today stands somewhere lost in the sands of time. Sania Mirza began her tennis career in 2003 and went on to play for the Indian Fed Team winning all the singles matches. She also won the 2003 Wimbeldon Doubles Championships with Alisa Kleybanova of Russia. She was awarded the Arjuna Award by the Government in 2004. Now you would be wondering how come she managed to win the Arjuna Award just after one year of playing tennis. Even I am stuck in this thought!
In the meantime she rose up the rankings from the 500s – 700s to a career high of 27 in singles and 18 in doubles. She created many firsts in sport as well as in tennis for the Indian woman by crossing never before reached milestones. Till date she has reached 5 tournament finals winning 1 – Hyderabad Open, won 12 doubles titles and 1 mixed doubles titles. She was even awarded the Padma Shri in 2006 for her achievements.
But sadly despite her achievements on the court a lot many people chose to target her for something or the other. Be it her wearing short skirts which made Muslim groups across the country issue fatwas or her being in a controversy for disrespecting the national anthem or her getting injured on an off, she has had to face a huge number of problems. Whether she may agree or not, these problems have surely affected her game. Especially in the last two years since the controversies about her dressing style died down, her injuries have decreased her participation as well as affected her winning percentage in all tournaments.
As time went by, She became the role model for the women of today. She became more than just a player. Sania started earning money similar to cricket stars as she started getting endorsements by the dozen. Her shirts with special lines or slogans started alongwith her looks started attracting more attention than her tennis.
Her marriage with Shoaib Malik may just be the final nail in the coffin. Sania has a very good game to be successful on the women’s circuit especially her forehand is one of the best. But sadly due to a combination of public hoopla in our country alongwith her poor physical fitness, and her seemingly lost desire to resurrect her career, it seems on a downslide. Though she has said that she would continue playing for the country even after marriage, only time will tell us what is in store.
But if she does plan to retire after marriage, it will be a really sorry end to a career which promised a lot but failed to live up to the promise. She is still just 24! Can she comeback?
PS – In the meanwhile, her namesake or shall I say with a similar name but different sport and rank (Saina Nehwal ranked 5th in Badminton) has interestingly done beautifully!! and that too without any hype or awards or trophies conferred upon her!!!