Sania Mirza (born 15 November 1986, in Bombay) is a professional Indian tennis player, well known for her powerful forehand ground strokes. She holds the record for being the highest ranked player from India for over a decade. In her career, Mirza has notable wins over Svetlana KuznetsovaVera ZvonarevaMarion Bartoli; and former World No. 1s Martina HingisDinara Safina, and Victoria Azarenka.

Mirza is the highest ranked female tennis player ever from India, with a career high ranking of 27 in singles and 7 in doubles. She is the first Indian female player to surpass US$1m in career earnings; first Indian to win a WTA Tour title of any kind; and, by winning the 2009 Australian Open – Mixed Doubles Event, became the third Indian, male or female, to win a Grand Slamtitle (the first two being Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes). Mirza has also won the 2012 French Open – Mixed Doubles Event (her second Grand Slam title).

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".

Early life and tennis career [edit]Edit

Sania was born into a Muslim family to Imran Mirza, a sports journalist, and his wife Naseema in MumbaiMaharashtra. She and younger sister Anam were brought up in Hyderabad,Andhra Pradesh in a religious family. Mirza began playing tennis at the age of six, turning professional in 2003. She was trained by her father. 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. Her niece, Sonia Baig Mirza, studies there.

Mirza is the third Indian woman in the Open Era to feature and win a round at a Grand Slam tournament (the first one being Nirupama Vaidyanathan at the 1998 Australian Open and the second being Shikha Uberoi at the 2004 US Open). She also became the 1st Indian woman to be seeded in a Grand Slam event at the 2006 Australian Open.

Junior years [edit]Edit

Mirza won 10 singles and 13 doubles titles as a junior player. She won the 2003 Wimbledon Championships Girls' Doubles title, partnering Alisa Kleybanova. She also reached the semifinals of the 2003 French Open Girls' Doubles, with Sanaa Bhambri, and the quarterfinals of the 2002 US Open Girls' Doubles, with Isha Lakhani.

2001 – 2003: Success on the ITF circuit [edit]Edit

Mirza started to show early success as she made her debut in April 2001 on the ITF Circuit as a 15-year-old. Her highlights of 2001 include a quarterfinals showing in Pune and a semifinal finish in New Delhi.

As the 2002 season began, she turned around a season of early losses to winning three straight titles; her first in her hometown Hyderabad and the other two in Manila.

In February 2003, Mirza was given a wildcard to play in her first ever WTA tournament, at the AP Tourism Hyderabad Open, in her hometown. She lost the tough first round encounter to Australia's Evie Dominikovic, 6–2, 1–6, 2–6. The following week, at the Qatar Ladies Open, she fell to Czech Olga Blahotová in the first qualifying round. She had a good result representing India on the Fed Cup, winning three straight matches.

She helped India win a bronze medal in the mixed doubles event of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, partnering Leander Paes. In addition, Mirza picked up 4 gold medals at the 2003 Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad.

2004 – 2005: First WTA title [edit]Edit

At her hometown event, the 2004 AP Tourism Hyderabad Open, Mirza was a wildcard. She put up a good fight against the fourth seed and eventual champion Nicole Pratt in round one, but lost 6–4, 3–6, 2–6. But she won her first WTA doubles title here, partnering Liezel Huber.

She also got a wildcard to play at the Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in CasablancaMorocco, but suffered a first round deficit to eventual champion Émilie Loit.

Mirza also had a runner-up showing at the Palm Beach Gardens Challenger, where she fell to Sessil Karatantcheva. In addition, Mirza won 6 ITF singles titles in 2004.

Going into the 2005 Australian Open, Sania defeated Cindy Watson and Petra Mandula in the first and second rounds, respectively, to reach the third round where she was beaten in straight sets by eventual champion Serena Williams.

In February, Mirza became the first ever Indian woman to win a WTA title, by winning her hometown event, the 2005 AP Tourism Hyderabad Open, defeating ninth seeded Alona Bondarenkoin the final, 6–4, 5–7, 6–3. Her good-form continued at the 2005 Dubai Tennis Championships, where in round two she upset 4th seed and reigning US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsovain straight sets, coming back from a 0–4 deficit.

After an early loss at 2005 French Open, she defeated Akiko Morigami to reach the second round of 2005 Wimbledon Championships, where she lost to Kuznetsova in a tight three setter.

In August, she reached the third round at the Acura Classic, falling to Morigami. Mirza reached her second WTA final at the 2005 Forest Hills Tennis Classic, falling to Lucie Šafářová. Mirza became the first Indian woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament at the 2005 US Open, defeating Mashona WashingtonMaria Elena Camerin and Marion Bartoli, before losing to top seed Maria Sharapova in the Round of 16.

At the Japan Open, Mirza reached the semifinals with wins over Vilmarie CastellviAiko Nakamura and Vera Zvonareva, before being overpowered by Tatiana Golovin. Thanks to a successful2005 season, Mirza was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year.

2006 [edit]Edit

[1][2]Sania Mirza at the 2006 Bangalore Open

Mirza reached the second round of the 2006 Australian Open, falling to Michaëlla Krajicek. Next she fell to Camille Pin at the Bangalore Open, but won the doubles title partnering Huber.

She played at the Dubai Tennis Championships but lost to Martina Hingis.

At the Indian Wells Masters, she reached the third round but lost to Elena Dementieva. She also lost in the first round of the 2006 French Open Grand Slam to Anastasia Myskina.

Her next tournament was the DFS Classic, where she defeated Alona Bondarenko and Shenay Perry to reach the third round, where she was overpowered by Meilen Tu. She also reached the quarterfinals of the Cincinnati Masters and the third round of the Acura Classic, falling to Patty Schnyder and Elena Dementieva, respectively.

She reached the second round of the 2006 US Open, losing to Francesca Schiavone. In September, she reached the semifinals of the Sunfeast Open, losing to eventual champion and top seedMartina Hingis. She also won the doubles title there partnering Huber. Mirza made the quarterfinals of the Hansol Korea Open and the Tashkent Open.

In December, Mirza picked up three medals at the 2006 Doha Asian Games - Gold, in mixed doubles and Silver in women's singles and team.

In 2006, Mirza notched up three top ten wins- against Svetlana KuznetsovaNadia Petrova and Martina Hingis[8]

2007: Top 30 breakthrough [edit]Edit

[3][4]Sania Mirza at the 2007 Australian Open

Mirza started 2007 strongly, making it to the semifinals of Hobart, the second round of the 2007 Australian Open, semifinals in Pattaya, and the quarterfinals in Bangalore.

At the 2007 French Open, Mirza lost the battle against Ana Ivanović in the second round. She also fell in the second round at the 2007 Wimbledon Championships to Nadia Petrova. Mirza had the best results of her career during the 2007 summer hardcourt season, finishing eighth in the 2007 U.S. Open Series standings and reaching her highest singles ranking of World No. 27.

She reached the quarterfinals in San Diego, the semifinals at Cincinnati, and made it to the final at Stanford. She also won the doubles event in Cincinnatiwith Shahar Pe'er. At the 2007 US Open, she reached the third round before losing to Anna Chakvetadze for the third time in recent weeks. She fared much better in the doubles, reaching the quarterfinals in mixed with her partner Mahesh Bhupathi and the quarterfinals in the women's doubles with Bethanie Mattek, including a win over number two seeds Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur. She won four doubles titles in 2007.

2008 [edit]Edit

Mirza reached the quarter-finals at Hobart as No. 6 seed. She lost to Flavia Pennetta in three sets. She reached the third round at the 2008 Australian Openas No.31 seed, where she lost to No.8 seed Venus Williams 7–6(0) 6–4, having led 5–3 in the first set. She was runner-up in the Australian Open mixed doubles partnering Mahesh Bhupathi where they lost 7–6(4), 6–4 to Sun Tiantian and Nenad Zimonjić.

She had to withdraw from the PTT Pattaya Open because of a left abductor strain. She reached round four at Indian Wells as the No. 21 seed, defeating No.9 seed Shahar Pe'er en route, but lost to No.5 seed Daniela Hantuchová. On Grass, Mirza was crushed in the second round of Birmingham by Marina Erakovic. At 2008 Wimbledon Championships, as the No. 32 seed, Mirza was defeated by qualifier María José Martínez Sánchez, 6–0, 4–6, 9–7 in round two, having had several match points.

Mirza represented India at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. She was eliminated from singles when she retired in her match against Iveta Benešová because of a right wrist injury. For doubles, she got a walkover through the first round with Sunitha Rao, but lost in the second round to Russia. Throughout 2008, Mirza was plagued by a slew of wrist injuries, requiring her to withdraw from several matches including those of the 2008 French Open and 2008 US Open Grand Slams.

2009: Grand Slam Championship [edit]Edit

[5][6]Sania Mirza at the 2009 US Open

Mirza started her year by playing at the doubles event of the Moorilla Hobart International. Partnering Francesca Schiavone, they reached the quarterfinals. At 2009 Australian Open, she won her first round match against Marta Domachowska, but she fell against 10th seed Nadia Petrova in round two. In doubles she lost in first round partnering Vania King. But in mixed doubles Mirza picked up her first Grand Slam title at the 2009 Australian Open. Partnering with Mahesh Bhupathi, they beat Nathalie Dechy & Andy Ram 6–3, 6–1 in the final.

She then entered the Pattaya Women's Open Tournament in Bangkok where she reached the finals after a string of good performances. She lost the finals to Vera Zvonareva 7–5, 6–1. She made the semis in doubles in the same tournament. Mirza then competed in the BNP Paribas Open where she lost in the second round to Flavia Pennetta. She then participated in the Miami Mastersand lost to Mathilde Johansson in the first round. Mirza and her doubles partner Chuang Chia-jung made the semifinals of the doubles event. Mirza lost in the first round of the MPS Group Championships but won the doubles title with Chuang. She also lost in the first round at 2009 French OpenGalina Voskoboeva.

On grass, Mirza participated at the 2009 AEGON Classic and reached the semifinals, losing to Magdaléna Rybáriková. At 2009 Wimbledon Championships, Mirza defeated Anna-Lena Grönefeld in the first round. She then fell to No.28 seed Sorana Cîrstea in the second round. She then lost in the second round of the doubles (with Chuang) and mixed doubles (with Mahesh Bhupathi).

Next Mirza went to Lexington to compete in Fifth Third Bank Tennis Championships, where she won the title after a few good wins. Sania's next two tournaments were in Canada, where she had mixed results. She managed it all the way to the final at the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open where she was beaten by Stéphanie Dubois. But at the Rogers Cup, she fell to Heidi El Tabakh in the second qualifying round.

Playing in the U.S Open, she defeated Olga Govortsova in the first round but was double-bagled by 10th seed Flavia Pennetta. She also lost in the second round of the doubles event (partnering Francesca Schiavone) to Shahar Pe'er andGisela Dulko.

Mirza then went to Japan where she qualified for the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo but lost in the first round to Zheng Jie. At Osaka, Mirza won against 5th seed Shahar Pe'er and Viktoriya Kutuzova and in the quarterfinal she defeated 2nd seed Marion Bartoli 6–4, 2–0 by retirement. Mirza moved on to the semifinal, where she lost to Francesca Schiavone.

2010 [edit]Edit

[7][8]Sania Mirza at the 2010 US Open

Mirza began her year at the ASB Classic in Auckland. She won her first round match against Stefanie Vögele, but was crushed by 4th seed Francesca Schiavone in the second round. Mirza then suffered two first-round losses at the Moorilla Hobart International and the 2010 Australian Open.

In February, Mirza competed in the 2010 PTT Pattaya Open as the 6th seed, but was upset by Tatjana Malek 6–3, 4–6, 3–6. She then played in the Dubai Tennis Championships but suffered a first round defeat to Anabel Medina Garrigues. Mirza was forced to withdraw from the Sony Ericcson Open, the BNP Paribas Open and the Family Circle Cup due to a right wrist injury. This injury also caused her to pull out of the 2010 French Open.

She returned at the 2010 AEGON Classic, where she lost in the second round to Tamarine Tanasugarn in three sets. Mirza then fell in the qualifying at Eastbourne and also lost in the first round of Wimbledon.

Her bad form continued, as she lost in the second round of the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open and qualifying rounds of both the Cincinnati Masters and the Rogers Cup. Mirza won her first round match against Michelle Larcher de Brito at the 2010 US Open, but she went down fighting 20th seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round.

In September, Mirza competed in the 2010 Guangzhou International Women's Open where she made her first quarterfinal of the season. She then lost in the first round of the Tashkent Open, the qualifying draw of the BGL Luxembourg Open, and the first round of the OEC Taipei Ladies Open. In doubles, Mirza won in Guangzhou (with Edina Gallovits) and finished as a runner-up in Taipei(with Su-Wei Hsieh).

In October, she represented India at the 2010 Commonwealth Games as the 2nd seed. She defeated Brittany Teei (Cook Islands), Marina Erakovic (New Zealand), and Olivia Rogowska (Australia) before losing to Australia's Anastasia Rodionova in the final. In doubles, she partnered with fellow Indian, Rushmi Chakravarthi, losing in the semifinals to Australian's Anastasia Rodionova and Sally Peers. Mirza and Chakravarthi beat fellow Indian's Poojashree Venkatesha and Nirupama Sanjeev to win the bronze medal.

In November, she represented India at the 2010 Asian Games. The unseeded Indian defeated Chan Wing-yau in first round. Next she defeated 6th seed Zhang Shuai in straight sets 6–2, 6–2 to enter into quarterfinal. In quarterfinal Mirza won against 2nd seed Tamarine Tanasugarn 6–2,6–3 to move in semi final, where she went down fighting to 3rd seed Akgul Amanmuradova 7–6(7), 3–6, 4–6 and won Bronze Medal in singles. In Mixed Doubles she partnered with India'sVishnu Vardhan losing in the finals to Chan Yung-jan and Yang Tsung-hua and won Silver Medal.

In December, she went to Dubai to compete at the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge. Coming unseeded, she won the tournament, defeating 6th seed Ksenia Pervak, top seed Julia Görges & 8th seed Evgeniya Rodina en route, and 2nd seedBojana Jovanovski in the final.

2011 [edit]Edit

[9][10]Sania Mirza in-action at the 2011 French Open

Ranked at no.141, Mirza kicked-off her year with the ASB Classic in Auckland. She needed one more win to qualify for the tournament, but lost in three sets against Sabine Lisicki. In doubles, she partnered Renata Voráčová of Czech Republic and reached the semifinals, but lost to Katarina Srebotnik and Květa Peschke.

Going into the 2011 Australian Open, Mirza went down fighting to former world no. 1 Justine Henin in a tight three-setter 5–7, 6–3, 6–1 in the first round. She partnerd Voráčová for doubles but lost in the first round also.

She received wildcards to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships and the Qatar Ladies Open. She made the second rounds of both events, falling to Ayumi Morita and Jelena Janković, respectively. She also was the quarterfinalist in doubles at both, with Russian Elena Vesnina.

At the Premier Mandatory events in March, Mirza made the second rounds in both. In doubles, she won her first Premier Mandatory title at Indian Wells, with Vesnina, defeating Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy.

Mirza participated at the Premier-level Family Circle Cup in Charleston. In singles, she made her first Premier quarterfinal since San Diego in August 2007. In doubles, Mirza won the title with Vesnina: the Indo-Russian duo beat Mattek-Sands and Shaughnessy in the final for the second time this season. Mirza won her 11th WTA Tour Doubles Title and second of the year.

Next, she also competed at the 2011 Mutua Madrid Open, losing in the first round against doubles partner Elena Vesnina. In doubles, with Vesnina, she managed to go up to the third round. Mirza took part in the 2011 Sparta Prague Open, but had to retire in her first round match against Aleksandra Krunić due to a back injury. Next she played at the 2011 Internationaux de Strasbourg, but suffered a first round lost Alizé Cornet.

Mirza breezed through the first round of the French Open where she beat Kristina Barrois in straight sets, 6–3, 6–3. Then in Round 2, she lost to 12th seed Agnieszka Radwańska, 2–6, 4–6. In doubles, Mirza had what was probably the greatest highlight of her career- she was the runner-up with Vesnina to Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká.

At Wimbledon, Mirza made the semifinals of doubles with Vesnina and the quarterfinals in mixed doubles with Rohan Bopanna. She also made the third round of the US Open in doubles with Vesnina. At the 2011 Citi Open, Mirza won the doubles title with Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.

After the French Open, Mirza suffered six straight main draw losses, including the Wimbledon Championships and US Open grand slams. An knee injury stopped Mirza from playing the rest of the season. She ended the year ranked at No. 104.

2012 [edit]Edit

Mirza kicked-off her 2012 season ranked 104th at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. She lost a tough 6–1, 5–7, 3–6 first qualifying match against Coco Vandeweghe. As for doubles, she partnered Elena Vesnina and made it to the semifinals, losing to Julia Görges and Flavia Pennetta. Her next tournament was in Sydney where she played doubles only alongside Italian Roberta Vinci, but lost in round one.

Going into the Australian Open, Mirza was overpowered by Tsvetana Pironkova 4–6, 2–6 in the first round. In doubles, Mirza reached her third Grand Slam semifinal, partnering Vesnina, where they fell to Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva. For the mixed doubles event, Mirza played alongside compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi and reached her 4th Grand Slam semifinal.

Mirza then represented India at the Fed Cup in Shenzhen, China where they were facing Hong Kong. In singles, she defeated Zhang Ling 5–7, 6–0, 6–1. Partnering with Isha Lakhani, the pair beat Chan Wing-yau and Zhang 6–7(7), 6–1, 7–5. With this performance, India advanced to the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group I for 2013. Mirza then played at the PTT Pattaya Open where she won her first WTA main draw match since the 2011 French Open – coming from a set down to upset Ayumi Morita (ranked 47 spots higher), 3–6, 6–1, 6–2. In second round she beat Anne Keothavong 6–4, 7–5 to enter in Quarter Final, where she lost to Su-Wei Hsieh. In doubles with Australian Anastasia Rodionovashe won her 13th WTA title: they defeated the Taiwanese sisters Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan 3–6, 6–1, 10–8

Mirza then went to Doha to play at the Qatar Ladies Open where she had to withdraw from the singles qualifying event, due to playing Pattaya doubles final. She lost in the second round of doubles with Vesnina. Then, in Dubai, she was beaten by Aleksandra Wozniak in the first qualifying round. In doubles, Mirza and Vesnina are were runners-up against No.1 seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond. Mirza then lost a tough 2–6, 6–1, 4–6 encounter to Eleni Daniilidou in Round 1 of the BMW Malaysian Open.

Playing doubles at the Premier-line up of Indian WellsMiami and Charleston, Mirza reached the final, lost in round one and made the quarters, respectively. She also reached round two of singles in Indian Wells. She then would begin the European Clay Court Season at the 2012 Estoril Open, where she was the semifinalist in doubles (with Anastasia Rodionova). She lost in round 2 of doubles in Madrid and also in Rome.

Mirza returned on the singles circuit in May at the 2012 Brussels Open where she won three good matches – including her first 'double bagel' – in the qualifying competition, where she beat Lesia Tsurenko by 6–0, 6–0, who was ranked 87 spots higher than her. She also won the doubles of the same event with Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

She then participated in the French Open in the Women's doubles (with Mattek-Sands) and the French Open mixed doubles (with Bhupathi). In the doubles she suffered a first round shock defeat but found great success in the French Open mixed doubles where she and Bhupathi won the crown by defeating Santiago González of Mexico and Klaudia Jans-Ignacik of Poland 7–6 (7/3), 6–1 in the final on 7 June 2012.

Sania her parter Yaroslava Shvedova crashed out of the 2012 AEGON Classic with a straight-set defeat against Iveta Benešová and Alla Kudryavtseva. Mirza then would go on to falling in the qualifying singles and first round doubles at the 2012 AEGON International.

Sania and her American partner Mattek-Sands advanced to the third round of the women's doubles competition at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships, where they fell to the Williams sisters.

On 26 June 2012, Sania Mirza was awarded a wild card entry hence confirming her participation in women's doubles event of the London Olympics.On 17 July 2012, Sania and her partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands were ousted in the first round of WTA Premier event in USA . Mirza, partnering Rushmi Chakravarthy in the Women's doubles competition at Olympics, bowed out, losing to Chinese Taipei in a tight match. She also lost in quarterfinals of mixed doubles with Leander Paes to Belarus in a tough encounter.

At the Premier Mandatory events Montreal and Cincinnati, partnering Mattek-Sands, Mirza reached the quarterfinals and lost in round one of doubles, respectively.

In October 2012 the prize purse for female winners of the Fenesta Open National Tennis Championship was increased to be equal to that of male winners at Mirza's suggestion to All India Tennis Association president Anil Khanna.[17]Khanna also announced that "From now on we will see to it that all national tournaments have the same prize money for both categories women and men." 

2013 [edit]Edit

Mirza reached the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open mixed doubles partnering Bob Bryan.Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sania Mirza won the doubles title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on 23-2-2013(Saturday)

Awards [edit]Edit

In 2004, Mirza was awarded the Arjuna award by the Indian Government. In 2006, Mirza was awarded a Padma Shri, India's fourth highest honour for her achievements as a tennis player.

Personal life [edit]Edit

In 2009, Sania Mirza became engaged to childhood friend Sohrab Mirza. However the engagement was called off shortly after. Then, she dated Faizan Udyawar, who is a multimillionaire businessman, for six months. Since she wanted to marry a sportsperson, she started seeing Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. On 12 April 2010, she married Shoaib Malik in an Islamic wedding ceremony at the Taj Krishna Hotel in Hyderabad, India followed by Pakistani wedding customs for a mahr of 61 lakh (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 most searched Indian sportsperson in 2010 according to Google Trends. The couple planned to settle down in Dubai. The wedding was even more controversial because Shoaib 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, Shoaib Malik refused to grant the divorce claiming he was never married. This resulted in a huge media drama leading to so much online attention as stated earlier. Finally, having no other option, Shoaib divorced the girl paving the way for his next marriage to Mirza. Sania's mother Naseema has been appointed as the manager of the two member tennis team for London Olympics 2012.

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