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Sania Mirza
Sania Mirza

GRAND SLAM

Winner all the way

To be ranked the numero uno player in the world, in any field and in any format, is the dream of any sportsman. I consider myself truly blessed to have achieved what millions aspire for and am thankful to the Almighty for everything that I am blessed with in life, which includes my tennis career.

I have been fortunate to have had so many people who played such an important role in helping me achieve this cherished and unbelievable goal of getting to number one in the world. I have never viewed my achievements as just my own, but have treated them as a victory for 'Team Sania', which includes my parents, sister, Anam, my husband, my 51 doubles partners who played alongside me over the years, the coaches and trainers who have worked on my technique and fitness since I was a little girl, my sponsors who believed in me and, of course, the people of my country.

GRAND SLAM Illustration: Bhaskaran

If one takes the trouble to look closely under the glamorous, shining veneer of every successful sportsman's life, one is likely to see the sweat and blood, the sacrifices and struggles that are involved in winning laurels for oneself, for the family, state and country. Perhaps, one of the most difficult facets of a professional life is the prolonged lonely time one has to spend away from one's family, friends and loved ones while pursuing success in the far corners of the world. This impacts and hurts the life of the entire family and calls for a great deal of understanding and sacrifices from all the loved ones, which tend to go unnoticed by the general public. I am extremely fortunate to be blessed with a loving family that has always taken the rough with the smooth and sacrificed a lot to get me to where I am.

My recent 'dream run' on the hard courts of the USA has brought me to a landmark position of number one in the world in women's doubles. This is a proud moment for me, for my family, for the support staff that has worked relentlessly, for my friends who have always stood by me in difficult times, for the women of my beloved country and, of course, for every Indian who is entitled to take justifiable pride in my success. But this unbelievable achievement of getting to the topmost position in the world in my chosen sport is not the only childhood dream that has become a reality for me in the last few weeks.

In my maiden stint as the Indian captain of the Fed Cup team, my fellow players have given me the honour of winning the Zone II Asia-Oceania leg of the tournament and that too in my home city of Hyderabad, where it was held for the first time under the supervision of the Telangana State Tennis Association. It has been supremely satisfying to have gone on to win the final against the Philippines in this multi-nation team event and to have played my part in the crucial deciding doubles encounter. With the honour of my national team at stake, my teammate Prarthana Thombare and I settled the issue with a 6-3, 6-3 win to proudly carry India into the Zone I in the coming year.

This has truly been an amazing phase in my career and has made all the struggles of the last 22 years seem worthwhile!

editor@theweek.in

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