Sania Mirza's place
Well,I cannot believe Sania has not her own thread,so I created this one.I pleasantly discovered her at this AO in her match vs Serena.What a talented player she is!!! I wish her lots of success in her career!:D
Sania Blazes Her Own Trail
by Nick Hulett
Saturday, 22 January, 2005
India, a country of over one billion people, has yet to produce an elite female tennis player, but that might be about to change with the emergence of 18-year-old Sania Mirza at this year's Centenary Australian Open.
The diminutive, hard-hitting Mirza was granted a wildcard into the main draw of the women's singles to become only the second Indian woman - after Nirupama Vidyanathan who competed at the 1998 Australian Open - to play in a Grand Slam tournament.
And the world No.166 certainly grabbed the opportunity with both hands, advancing to the third-round and causing an upsurge of excitement in her home country.
Mirza defeated fellow wildcard recipient Cindy Watson of Australia on Day One at Melbourne Park, then ousted Hungarian Petra Mandula to book a meeting with the No.7 seed and six-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams in the round of 32.
After starting nervously in front of a full house on Vodafone Arena, the Indian forced Williams to fight in the second set, showing she has what it takes to mix it with the game's best.
Mirza certainly didn't enjoy a straightforward path to Melbourne from her home city of Hyderabad in central India.
She was beaten by China's Na Li in the final of the Asian wildcard event, but soon afterwards Li moved into the world's top 100, earning her automatic entry into the tournament. Thus the wildcard passed to Mirza.
The 18-year-old, whose family has a strong background in cricket but encouraged her to play a variety of sports as a young girl, admitted to some surprise at how she fared at the first Grand Slam of 2005, and the excitement that she felt with all the support on offer.
"It hasn't been what I expected because I didn't expect to get to the third-round (laughing), so it's not really what I expected, it's been an overwhelming experience," Mirza said.
"When I got here I just wanted to have a good draw, which I did get, I got a wildcard in the first-round and I couldn't expect anything more than that."
"Even though I was nervous and I got through that (first) match, the second match I played a really good match. She (Mandula) used to be top 30. I just had to go out there and play my game, that's what I did."
"I mean, third-round, obviously no-one expected me to win the match. It's been a great experience and, for the first Grand Slam, I'm loving it."
"I was very happy with the crowd support - didn't expect so much actually. I saw a lot of Indians there, and it was packed. I didn't expect that. I totally enjoyed every bit of the match and it really (was) a learning experience for me," Mirza explained.
Having broken into the world's top 200 players in 2004, Mirza, winner of the 2003 Wimbledon Junior Girls' Doubles title, hopes the impact of her performance at Melbourne Park will inspire girls from all over India to strive for excellence on the tennis court.
"This is the way I look at it: if I can do it, anyone can do it, and I've had most of my training in India," she added.
"I'm sure and I hope that a lot of girls in India can get motivated by this and now we do have a lot of talent coming up in India so I'm sure it's going to help a lot of people."
Exactly just how much of an impact Mirza's success at Melbourne Park has on tennis in her country and around Asia probably won't be known for some time, but on the way she played, it is unlikely she'll need to rely on wildcards for too much longer.
Sania Mirza, Generation Next
By Anand Philar
Thursday, 20 January , 2005, 10:54
Sports in India, apart from cricket of course, thrives and survives on heroes and heroines. Now that Sania Mirza, just 18 years old, has made history by becoming the first woman from her country to make it to the third round of a Grand Slam event, one hopes that her exploits will trigger a fresh wave of teenaged girls with double-fisted backhand and pony tails.
It will take a while before the significance of Sania’s performance is truly appreciated. No doubt, few would wager a bet in her favour when she takes on Serena Williams in the third round in Melbourne.
But then, in the past couple of years, especially since winning the junior doubles crown at Wimbledon in 2003, Sania has progressed a great deal. With age on her side, sky is the limit for this talented and pretty Hyderabadi girl, regardless of the result of the third round match..
One quite liked the brave and positive words she uttered soon after winning her second round match in less than an hour. Of course, there was a lot of bravado talk about possibility of even beating Serena and if Sania can back her words and come good, then women’s tennis will see the birth of yet another teenage star. If nothing else, Sania’s time will surely come.
Since the splitting of Leander Paes-Mahesh Bhupathi tandem and their lack of results in singles as also the pronounced absence of new crop of players, the future of Indian tennis indeed looked bleak.
But now, with Sania making waves Down Under, it is to be hoped that she will inspire a new generation of players from a country that still looks back to the likes of Krishnans and Amritrajs who had made their mark on the highly competitive men’s tour.
Paes and Bhupathi enjoyed rare success in the doubles with a series of Grand Slam victories. However, the controversial parting of ways has considerably dampened Indian hopes of finding worthy successors.
If today’s young Indian men have a choice of homegrown heroes to emulate, then Sania had none. Of course, Nirupama Vaidyanathan (now Sanjeev), did score some good wins internationally, including a second round finish at the Australian Open some seven years ago, but for the best part of her career, she was pretty much left to fend for herself.
Incidentally, one had a chance meeting with Nirupama during the recent Chennai Open where she was one of the television commentators. Having retired from tennis, Nirupama has given herself up to a good life in sunny California after marriage.
"Frankly, I got a bit fed up of all the travelling and the hassles that you have to put up with when on the tour. I had to attend to just about everything myself, like sponsorship, ticketing, travel plans, practice sessions, etc.,. I could not afford a full-time coach and manager. So, you end up doing everything and it becomes difficult to keep your focus on tennis," she confessed.
While it is indeed time to rejoice Sania’s third round entry, the onus is on the country to now take this youngster under its wings and provide her every possible assistance so that she can concentrate on tennis. If nothing else, she should be spared of the endless travails of say Leander whose early days were.
To Sania’s good fortune, she came to the attention of Mahesh’s father, CGK Bhupathi when still in her early teens and it has helped her to pursue her tennis career in a planned manner.
In the recent times, there have been quite a few women players who showed early promise, but never made the transition from junior to senior ranks, much less the WTA tour. When viewed in this perspective, Sania’s performances are indeed worthy of high praise.
As Nirupama pointed out, and something that Leander himself experienced, it is not a life of roses on the pro tour. The competition, constant travel and the daily grind of practice and matches, could prove deterrents to a youngster’s dream of pursuing a tennis career. Add to that the enormous expenses that a player has to deal with and you get the picture.
In India, especially, sponsorship for sports other than cricket, is hard to come by. Given the amateurish set-up of our National sports Federation and the unwillingness of Corporate India to invest in young talent until the youngster makes headlines, have all contributed to the premature death of talent.
One classic example is that of Prahlad Srinath from Mysore, who despite making it to the Davis Cup squad and showing definite signs of promise, simply gave up on his tennis dream after failing to rope in adequate sponsorship. Had he been backed when he was in his teens, perhaps, India would have found worthy successor to Leander and Mahesh.
It is much worse in the case of an Indian sportswoman in view of the cynicism with which our society views the very thought of a girl taking up professional sport. Good education, marriage and family over-ride all other considerations.
However, India has seen a few rare gems like PT Usha and Anju Bobby George who broke through traditional barriers to excel in their chosen discipline.
Thus, Sania Mirza deserves every bit of encouragement as she chases her dream. She has shown the courage to shed inhibitions and go for it. Far more than her two (so far) victories so far in Melbourne, we need to acknowledge and appreciate that Sania has dared to dream and pursue it actively.
Yes, another notch for Indian sportswoman.
The views expressed in the article are the author's
'Sania Mania' grips India
Thursday, 20 January , 2005, 15:42
New Delhi: India discovered a new sporting star other than a cricketer on Thursday as petite teenager Sania Mirza hit the headlines after winning two rounds of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. Column: Sania Mirza, Generation Next
The 18-year-old may only have entered the third round, where she runs into the formidable Serena Williams, but the usually cricket-obsessed Indian media celebrated as if she had won the title.
Colour pictures of the Hyderabad girl were splashed on the front and back pages of all major dailies with the Hindustan Times running a banner headline: "Game, set, match milestone."
'Super Sania' said The Times of India over a front-page picture of Mirza, while the Statesman described the ensuing euphoria as 'Sania Mania'.
It was the first time an Indian woman had reached the third round of a grand slam event and the country will tune in to Mirza's clash with Williams on Friday even though few give her a realistic chance of defeating the former champion.
"My family and I will be watching the match for sure and cheer Sania on every point," said Indian Tennis Association secretary Anil Khanna.
"Win or lose, she has already done the country proud."
Added college student Rakesh Verma, "The girl's a stunner. She deserves more endorsements than Anna Kournikova. Hope she gives Serena a fight." Does Sania Mirza stand a chance?
Even as Mirza's parents followed her trail from Mecca where they are on the hajj pilgrimage, her first coach Narendra Nath said he could not keep his eyes off the television during Mirza's first two matches.
"A wildcard for the Australian Open was just the break she needed," Nath said. "She is a big match player and I think she will surprise a few people on Friday."
Mirza, ranked 166th in the world, breezed past world number 84 Petra Mandula of Hungary in the second round on Wednesday dropping just three games. She had defeated Australian Cindy Watson in the first round.
The youngster's achievement betters the second round showing of Nirupama Vaidyanathan at Melbourne Park in 1998.
India has produced several famous male tennis stars such as Vijay Amritraj, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi but has had few female representatives in the upper echelons.
Bhupathi, whose sports management company signed Mirza last year, predicted a top-50 placing for her in the current season.
"She has the game to go so far," Bhupathi said. "This could be her year to break into the big league."
Sania next to Sharapova in popularity
Melbourne, Jan 22:
Sania Mirza might have lost to Serena Williams but there is another stage of the Australian Open where she has outscored the American superstar, even as the Grand Slam organisers soak up the fresh fragrance the Indian teen sensation has brought to the 100-year-old sporting event.
The 18-year-old Indian won thousands of hearts at the Vodafone Arena with her gutsy performance while going down to Williams in the third round yesterday, but the 'virtual impact' she has had on the year's first Grand Slam event has crossed the million mark.
Officially, the Australian Open website has registered 1.1 million hits so far and Sania's is the second most visited page in the women's section.
Only Russian Maria Sharapova ranks above her.
Sania has left in her wake Serena, Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova and Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands (sister of former Wimbledon Richard Krajicek) in the top five women's pages.
Among the men, Swiss phenomenon Roger Federer tops the list followed by the evergreen Andre Agassi, young guns Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt, and the mercurial Marat Safin.
The breaching of million mark makes it a 53 percent increase on traffic registered for the same period last year, the organisers said.
Repeat visitors to the official website of the Australian Open, which is celebrating its centenary year, were up by 36 percent and more than 41-million page views have been recorded already, an increase of over 20 percent during the same period.
Tennis Australia identified the increased volume of traffic from the Asian region. Japan continued to top the list of countries from the continent logging on, with people from India and China among the top five.
The increased interest from world's two most populous nations has been attributed to the success of Sania, who became the first Indian woman to reach the third round in a Grand Slam, and the emergence of several talented Chinese players including Li Na who actually beat the Indian in the singles final of the Asian Tennis Championships in Tashkent last year.
And if one were to go by the logic that those assessing Sania's page would have also visited Serena's, to whom she eventually lost, the American does owe something to her vanquished rival.
For Tennis Australia, the main draw wild card to the ATC winner (Sania got it despite being runner-up because Li Na gained a direct entry) justified their decision to project the event as "The Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific".
Sania's fan-wave has not left untouched the broadcasters as well. ESPN-Star Sports, the channel beaming the event live in India, were able to find ads to fill the breaks for changeover during the Sania-Serena match, a slot that goes vacant mostly otherwise. (Agencies)
Mirza Gal Lib!
Indian tennis' Glam Slam Ma'am Sania Mirza, who has made history of her own at the Australian Open, hits on the shorts and longings of her new avatar.
There's something different about her now... a certain oomph. It's the glam thing. Or is it those blue shorts? Has she shed her skirts for good and got a makeover? "I was a tomboy on the court. I've tried to change that. It's essential to acquire an attitude. But it's not as if I'm doing the catwalk. I have a very casual and relaxed style. Till now, I wore blues and reds. I also wore skirts, but the other day, I wore blue shorts. I don't copy anyone's style. I'm casual in my style and in my mind. I don't make a big deal out of losing or winning," says Sania, who was in the pool hours before she spoke with Delhi Times.
The next alpha girl of tennis... is that Sania Mirza? "When Anna Kournikova became the alpha girl, she was the ultimate style icon and started modelling. Serena Williams is the current alpha girl, but she's still playing professional tennis. I don't mind doing that — being the poster girl and alpha girl. It's not just about how you walk, talk or move on court; it would mean looking glamorous but still concentrating on my game. In tennis, one has to be glamorous — there's no harm in it, that's how you get fame. But don't forget that it's not just about the skirt. The alpha girl has to handle everything: success, glamour, style and, most importantly, her game."
Icons inspire her. "Ohh, I just love Steffi Graff, she's quite a legend. She was so graceful on and off court. When she played, she was on top of her game. Now, she's married and settled. I dream of being like her." The odds are there, and so are the challenges. "Every day is a challenge for me. Physically, mentally and emotionally one has to give everything. I play for 8 to 9 hours a day, travel 30 weeks a year. I want to be among the top 50 by 2006. I dream, but it's realistic."
Boyfriends? "Where's the time?" Nights out, parties, dancing? "I don't do the girlie things. Maybe, I'll do all that when I retire. Then I'll model, hang around with friends and do the other stuff." At 18, she's skirting success and is an ambassador for the girl child in India. How would she inspire the girls back home? "Girls are no less than boys. Go girls, take that challenge. It's tough being in tennis but I believe nothing is impossible. I've had to make many sacrifices but it's all been worthwhile. I'll give tennis my best shot right now; there's a lifetime I can enjoy later."
Sania Mirza returns:
[Sports India]: Mumbai, Jan 23 : 18-year-old Hydrabadi girl, Sania Mirza, ranked 166 in the world and got a wild card entry into the Australian Open in Melbourne, returned Mumbai on Sunday.
Mirza who lost to Williams 1-6, 4-6 in the third round is a junior Wimbledon doubles title winner, became the first Indian woman to reach the third round of a grand slam tennis event after beating Hungarian Petra. Her dream run in the Australian Open was cut short abruptly as she went down in straight sets against six- time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the women's singles third round. While talking to media, she first thanked GOD for her position in sports.
Sania was agreed that she was jittery at the start of the match but once she settled down, she was able to play her natural game and then Serena found her tough to beat.
The teenager expressed the kind of support she got from her family that when she went for her first tennis classes as a six- year-old girl since then she is getting tremendous support from her family.
Sania Mirza, the first Indian woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam tennis event, has lost to women's favourite Serena Williams. Played the biggest match of her life, Mirza made little impact on Williams in the early stages of the game. (ANI)
Sania keen to inspire an Indian revolution
Press Trust of India
Mumbai, January 23, 2005
Indian sports' new pin-up girl Sania Mirza on Sunday said she was keen to inspire a whole new generation of Indian players whom she wanted to take the tennis world by storm.
"There are lot of talented youngsters coming up in our country and I would like to inspire them to do well on the international scene," Sania said on her arrival from the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Barring a handful of media personnel, there was less of the throng that normally greets the senior cricket team at the Chattrapati Shivaji International Terminal.
The 18-year old, who became the first Indian woman to reach the third round of a grand slam, was received by her close relatives as her parents were yet to return from their pilgrimage to Mecca.
Thanking her family members, coaches and the fans for their support, Sania said she was revising her targets for the year.
"Before the Australian Open, my goal was to break into the top 100 in world rankings. But this performace has given me confidence and my aim would be to break into the top 50 before the end of the year," Sania said.
Asked how she felt about the American superstar's pre-match comments that she was an unknown quantity, Sania said, "I did not expect her to know me and I did not think much about her comments as my mind was on the match all the time."
"However, I wanted to play well against her and give a proper reply by displaying my talent on the court and I think I performed quite well against her," she said.
On the match itself, she said, "I was very nervous in the first set and was not at all hitting the ball well.
"However, in the second set I realised I could match her when I won the first game and started gaining in confidence. It was a fine feeling for me to hear Serena say a few good words after the match
And some more photos of her:
Sania :D :woohoo:
Here are some more Sania Pictures:
I love sania sooo much!
thanx for all the pics
go Sania !!!!!!!!!
Sania Mirza: Powerpuff girl
Posted online: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 1358 hours IST
Little more than a decade ago, Indian women’s tennis meant watching parabolas being drawn with the ball on court. In those days of the Licence Raj, it seemed powerful, accurate shots were also to be applied for in triplicate, substituted by the lame lob or a serene slice. To see those scorching volleys, those radar-like shots, one tuned in to Doordarshan four times a year. But those years of watching long-haired Swedes, Yank brats and a German child prodigy paid off to the extent that we soon saw our doubles boys picking up silverware across the globe. They taught Indian tennis a valuable lesson: It can be done.
Over the past week, the circle has been completed by the exploits of 18-year-old Sania Mirza. She grew up watching Paes and Bhupathi, a pre-teen slip of a girl just a few inches taller than the net and a shade heavier than her tennis kit, and obsessed with that famous Steffi Graf forehand. Ignoring her reed-like physique and adverse comments from the ‘‘experts’’, Sania focussed on her USP, letting it go when someone dared to place the ball to her right. With the change of century came a change in style in Indian women’s (or was it girls’?) tennis: The ‘moon balls’ were gone, the ball was being smashed across the net. Suddenly the gulf between what was being played out on home courts and on primetime Grand Slam TV seemed to have narrowed.
Sania's other big weapon — besides the killer forehand — was the support at home. Her father Imran — whose uncle is Test offie Ghulam Ahmed, a prime architect of India’s first Test win at Chepauk in 1951-52 — was a Division I cricketer who never made it to the Hyderabad Ranji side; indeed, it may have been the failed cricketer in him that made him push Sania. Regulars on the junior recruit talk about Sania’s mother Naseem being the more visible parent around the famous daughter. Between them, the parents made a series of sacrifices to put Sania on the road to meeting Serena at Melbourne. To cut costs on the domestic tour, Naseem and Imran travelled in their diesel car, hopping from one tournament to another. This way Sania could play more tournaments and, more importantly, avoid the hotel bills. When a slump in her daughter’s career provoked widespread criticism of the GenNext tennis girls, Naseem simply said, ‘‘Please encourage her.’’
Away from the family, there’s been a lot of support from Paes and Bhupathi. Sania talks of how her net play improved while playing alongside Lee at the Asian Games bronze medal, while Mahesh was virtually her travelling coach. Bhupathi Sr, too, had a big role to play, teaching her about the professional world and introducing Sania to courtcraft beyond her big forehand. Sania once had a very weak second serve and a one-dimensional double-handed backhand; Bhupathi sent her to the US where Sania learnt how, with a flick of wrist, the direction of the stroke could be changed at the last minute.
But the journey is far from over. Having made us believe in the possibilities, Sania has to deliver on the realities. If she does, it could mean an end to India’s days of choosing between an American girl in outlandish clothes or one among the many stunning Russians. It could simply be: The pierced nose and, of course, that big forehand.
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