Sania Mirza: How India's most followed female athlete became a tennis legend

Sania Mirza

Former doubles world number one Sania Mirza has announced she will be retiring at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old confirmed she will be calling time on her tennis career after suffering a first round loss in the women’s doubles at the Australian Open this week. 

Mirza, who is one of India’s most celebrated athletes, will see out 2022 on the court before capping off an impressive career.

Tennis has always been in Mirza’s blood, first picking up a racquet at the age of six before turning professional in 2003 when she was 17. 

As she plays out her final year on the court, GiveMeSport Women takes a look at her decorated career, spanning across almost two decades.

Doubles success and Martina Hingis partnership

Mirza immediately shone on the doubles stage after she won her first title just one year after turning professional. She partnered Liezel Huber for her first doubles title at the 2004 AP Tourism Hyderabad Open — a poignant maiden triumph on home soil. 

She went on to win at the same tournament the following year, this time as an individual. Her triumph made her the first ever Indian woman to win a WTA title. 

From there, Mirza’s career snowballed. 

Sania Hingis

After earning the WTA Newcomer of the Year award in 2005, she became the first Indian player to be seeded at a Grand Slam event as she competed at the Australian Open the following year.

After gradually rising through the ranks, Mirza really established herself as one of the best in the world in 2015. By then, she had 23 career titles under her belt and was eager to push on and further add to her tally.

The Indian trailblazer teamed up with Swiss legend Martina Hingis and the two would go on to become one of the most successful women’s doubles teams of the Open Era.

Martina Hingis Sania Mirza

The lethal duo, dubbed ‘Santina’, won an astonishing 14 titles in 16 months, including three back-to-back Grand Slams. Mirza and Hingis dominated as they won Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open, carrying their 2015 success into the new year. 

Across women’s doubles and mixed doubles, Mirza boasts six Grand Slam titles.

World number one

From 2003 until her singles retirement in 2013, Mirza was India’s number one player. 

After being a mainstay as her country’s top dog for a whole decade, she would go on to achieve even bigger in her next chapter.

Mirza made history once again after her success with Hingis saw her become the highest ranking female doubles player in the world. She claimed her spot after the two won the 2015 Family Circle Cup, now known as the Charleston Open.

Sania Mirza Martina Hingis

Mirza said “no tournament will ever be as special” to her as the American tournament.

Her status made her the first Indian player in history to achieve world number one ranking.

After dominating on the court, Mirza inspired girls and young women from her home country to get more involved in the sport. She has been credited with spreading the love for tennis all over India, a country typically known for its fascination with cricket. 

Most followed Indian sportswoman

Tennis is a hugely popular sport and one that offers up equal opportunities for everyone. After so much success on court, Mirza is regarded as one of the best. 

Due to the fierce following of her home fans, the Mumbai-born star is the most followed Indian sportswoman on Instagram.

Sania Mirza fan

With 8.7 million followers, Mirza is also the fifth most followed tennis player in the world — behind Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and queen of the court Serena Williams in the top spot with 14.1 million. 

Mirza’s career completely ripped up and repaved the landscape of tennis in India. Her historic achievements make her the most recognised and successful female tennis star in her country and her reign will continue long after her retirement.

News Now - Sport News