Sania Mirza (pronounced [saːˈnɪaː mɪrzaː]; born 15 November 1986) is an Indian professional tennis player who is currently ranked No. 1 in the women’s double women’s doubles rankings. From 2003 until her retirement from singles in 2013, she was ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association as India’s No. 1 player, both in singles and doubles. Throughout her career, Mirza has established herself as the most successful female Indian tennis player ever and one of the highest-paid and high-profile athletes in the country.
In her singles career, Mirza has notable wins over Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva and Marion Bartoli; as well as former world No. 1s Martina Hingis, Dinara Safina, and Victoria Azarenka. She is the highest-ranked female player ever from India, peaking at world No. 27 in singles in mid-2007; however, a major wrist injury forced her to give up her singles career and focus on the doubles circuit, where she is currently ranked No. 1. She has achieved a number of firsts for women’s tennis in her native country, including surpassing US$1 million in career earnings (now over $6 million), winning a singles Pro-level title, and winning six major titles (three each in women’s doubles and in mixed doubles), as well as qualifying for (and eventually winning) the WTA Finals in 2014 alongside Cara Black, defending the title the following year partnering with Martina Hingis.
In addition, she is the third Indian woman in the Open Era to feature and win a round at a Grand Slam tournament (going as far as the last 16). She has also won a total of 14 medals (including 6 Gold) at three major multi-sport events, namely the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Afro-Asian Games.
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”. She was appointed as the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia during the event held to mark the International Day To End Violence Against Women on 25 November 2013. She was named in Time magazine’s 2016 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Sania Mirza was born in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India on 15 November 1986, to Imran Mirza, a builder, and his wife Naseema, who worked in a printing business. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to Hyderabad where she and younger sister Anam were raised in a religious Sunni Muslim family. She is the distant relative of former cricket captains Ghulam Ahmed of India, and Asif Iqbal of Pakistan. She took up tennis at the age of six. She has been coached by her father and also Roger Anderson.
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. She is also a very good swimmer.
2001–2003: Success on the Junior ITF circuit
Sania Mirza began playing tennis at the age of six, turning professional in 2003. She was trained by her father. 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 US Open Girls’ Doubles, with Sanaa Bhambri, and the quarterfinals of the 2002 US Open Girls’ Doubles. On the senior circuit, 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, Philippines.
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 in three sets. 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: Success in WTA circuit and Grand Slam tournaments
At her hometown event, the 2004 AP Tourism Hyderabad Open, Mirza was a wildcard entrant. She put up a good fight against the fourth seed and eventual champion Nicole Pratt in round one, but lost in three sets. She won her first WTA doubles title at the same event, partnering Liezel Huber. She then received a wildcard to compete at the Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Casablanca, Morocco, but suffered a first round deficit to eventual champion Émilie Loit.
On the ITF Circuit, Mirza had a runner-up showing at the Palm Beach Gardens Challenger, where she fell to Sesil Karatantcheva. 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 Bondarenko in the final. Her good-form continued at the 2005 Dubai Tennis Championships, where in round two she upset 4th seed and reigning US Open champion to reach the second round of 2005 Wimbledon Championships, where she lost to Svetlana 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 Washington, Maria 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 Castellvi, Aiko Nakamura and Vera Zvonareva, before being overpowered by Tatiana Golovin. Thanks to a successful 2005 season, Mirza was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year.
2006–2007: Top 30 breakthrough
Mirza was seeded at the 2006 Australian Open (the first female Indian to be seeded in a grand slam event), only 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 seed Martina Hingis. She also won the doubles title there partnering Huber. Mirza made the quarterfinals of the Hansol Korea Open(defeating top seed Hingis en route) and the Tashkent Open. In December, Mirza picked up three medals at the 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 Kuznetsova, Nadia Petrova and Martina Hingis 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 Ivanovic 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 Cincinnati with 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.
2008–2009: Grand Slam Mixed Doubles Championship
Mirza reached the quarter-finals at Hobart as the No. 6 seed. She lost to Flavia Pennetta in three sets. She reached the third round at the 2008 Australian Open as No. 31 seed, where she lost to No. 8 seed Venus Williams having been up a break in the first set. She was runner-up in the Australian Open mixed doubles partnering Mahesh Bhupathi, where they lost in straight sets 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’eren 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 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.
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, she beat Nathalie Dechy and Andy Ram 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. 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 Masters and 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 Open, Galina 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 in the second. She also lost in the second round of the doubles event (partnering Francesca Schiavone) to Shahar Pe’er and Gisela 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 by retirement. Mirza moved on to the semifinal, where she lost to Francesca Schiavone.
2010: Struggles and injury
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. 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; however, she did manage to finish runner-up at the Aegon GB Pro-Series Wrexham. 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 against 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 Hsieh Su-wei). 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 Australians Anastasia Rodionova and Sally Peers. Mirza and Chakravarthi compatriots 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 to enter into quarterfinal. In quarterfinal Mirza won against 2nd seed Tamarine Tanasugarn to move in semi final, where she was defeated by 3rd seed Akgul Amanmuradovaand won Bronze Medal in singles. In Mixed Doubles she partnered with India’s Vishnu 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 Ksenia Pervak, top seed Julia Görgesand Evgeniya Rodina en route, and 2nd seed Bojana Jovanovski in the final.
2011–2012: Doubles specialization
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 lost in the first round against Belgium’s former world No. 1 Justine Henin in a tight three-setter, having won the first set 5–7 she went down 6–3, 6–1 in the next two. She continued her partnership with Voráčová for doubles but lost in the first round as well.
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. Then in Round 2, she lost to 12th seed Agnieszka Radwańska. In doubles, Mirza had what was probably the greatest highlight of her career- reaching the finals of a Grand Slam and she ended up runner-up with Vesnina losing out to Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká.
During the grass-court season Sania lost in the first rounds of the singles and doubles competition at the 2011 Aegon International. Playing at the All England Lawn Tennis Clubshe came up with her personal best performance by reaching her first semifinals at The Championships alongside Vesnina losing out to Květa Peschke Katarina Srebotnik. En route they beat 13th seeds Daniela Hantuchová and Agnieszka Radwańska in the round of 16 and the Spanish duo of Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja in the quarter final clash. In singles she lost in the first round to Virginie Razzano in a close three-setter.
She then could not cross the first round hurdles in her next five attempts in singles including the U S Open where she lost yet another tight three setter to Israel’s 23rd seed Shahar Pe’er. On two occasions Sania scored 2 wins in qualifying rounds, defeated Heidi El Tabakh at Rogers Cup and Vania King at Cincinnati. She however continued her good run in doubles competition as she won the title at D.C. partnering Yaroslava Shvedova defeating the 2nd seeded Olga Govortsova and Alla Kudryavtseva in the finals.
Partnering Vesnina Sania entered Southern California Open but the duo had to withdraw from their first round match against Elena Bovina and Zheng Jie while leading 5–2 in the first set. Playing at 2011 Rogers Cup the pair lost to the future world No. 1 Italian duo of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in three sets. At the Flushing Meadows Sania and Vesnina lost in the pre-quarters to the Czech duo of Iveta Melzer and Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová, having beaten Samantha Crawford and Madison Keys, Vitalia Diatchenko and Olga Savchuk in straight sets in their previous encounters. After playing on the singles circuit regularly throughout the year Sania also re-entered the top 60 in singles ranking in 2011.
Mirza kicked off her 2012 season ranked 104th at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. She lost a 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 in the first round. In doubles, Mirza reached her third Grand Slam semifinal, partnering Elena 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. Partnering with Isha Lakhani, the pair beat Chan Wing-yau and Zhang in three sets. 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). In second round she beat Anne Keothavong to enter in quarter-final, where she lost to Hsieh Su-wei. In doubles with Australian Anastasia Rodionova she won her 13th WTA title: they defeated the Taiwanese sisters Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan.
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 Elena Vesnina. Then, in Dubai, she was beaten by Aleksandra Wozniak in the first qualifying round. In doubles, Mirza and Vesnina were runners-up against No. 1 seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond. Mirza then lost a tough three set encounter to Eleni Daniilidou in Round 1 of the BMW Malaysian Open.
Playing doubles at the Premier-line up of Indian Wells, Miami 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, 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 in the final on 7 June 2012.
Sania and her partner 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 Montréal 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. 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.”
2013–2014: Top 5 doubles breakthrough
Mirza kicked off her 2013 season with a title Brisbane alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the first tournament itself. The pair then unexpectedly lost in the first round of Australian Open, Sania though reached the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open mixed doubles partnering Bob Bryan. Mattek-Sands and Mirza then won the doubles title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February. They had to retire in their round of 16 match at the French Open after having won the first set against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Šafářová. They also lost in R16 at The Championships. Sania then formed a brief successful partnership with Zheng Jie from China winning a title at New Haven and reaching the semis at US Open losing out to Australians Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty. Sania then partnered Cara Black for the rest of the season and the pair won their first title in their first outing at Tokyo. They won their second title in a row as they lifted the China Open trophy defeating top seeds and world No. 1’s Sara ErraniRoberta Vinci en route. Sania partnered different players during 2013 and won 5 WTA Titles.
Mirza began 2014 playing with Cara Black in the 2014 Apia International Sydney where they lost in the first round to Ajla Tomljanović and Jarmila Gajdošová. Her next tournament was the 2014 Australian Open. Seeded 6th, Mirza and Black reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 Australian Open – Women’s Doubles before losing to top seeds and eventual champions Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. She was more successful in the mixed doubles event, reaching the final partnering Horia Tecău of Romania. Tecău and Mirza lost to Kristina Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor in the final.
Mirza and Black next competed in the 2014 Qatar Total Open and lost to the pairing of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Nadia Petrova in the quartefinals. The pair lost in the first round of the 2014 Dubai Tennis Championships to Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Šafářová. They reached their first WTA Tour doubles final of the year at the 2014 BNP Paribas Open but lost to Hsieh Su-wei and Peng Shuai. Mirza and Black reached the semifinals of the 2014 Sony Open Tennis in Miami before losing to wildcards Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki. They finished runners-up to Errani and Vinci once again in the 2014 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. They won their first title of the year at the 2014 Portugal Open, defeating Eva Hrdinová and Valeria Solovyeva in the final.
Mirza and Black recorded three consecutive quarterfinal finishes in the subsequent clay tournaments, namely the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open, the 2014 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, and the 2014 French Open. In the mixed doubles event at the 2014 French Open, Mirza and Horia Tecău lost in the second round to Tímea Babos and Eric Butorac. Mirza began grass season playing in the 2014 Aegon Classic. She and Black lost to Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears in the semifinals. At the 2014 Aegon International, they reached the quarterfinals before losing to Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan. The pair next competed at the 2014 Wimbledon Championships and lost in the second round to the unseeded pairing of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Šafářová.
Mirza and Black next competed in the 2014 US Open and lost to the pairing of Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta in the semifinals. Mirza played the mixed doubles in the 2014 US Open pairing with Bruno Soares and went on to become the 2014 US Open Mixed Doubles Champions, thereby winning the third Mixed Doubles grand slam in her career.
Sania Mirza won a gold and bronze at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. She paired with Saketh Myneni to beat China’s Hsien Yin Peng and Chan Hao-ching and win gold in the mixed doubles tournament. She also won a bronze medal in Women’s doubles tournament, where she paired with Prarthana Thombare.
Black and Mirza won their biggest title together at the WTA Finals defeating Hsieh Su-wei and Peng Shuai in the final It was the heaviest defeat ever witnessed in the end-of-season competition’s doubles final which dates back 41 years to 1973, the year the WTA was founded. Black and Mirza survived matchpoints in both their previous encounters against Květa Peschke Katarina Srebotnik and Raquel Kops-Jones Abigail Spears coming through in third set tiebreaks. This final would be the duo’s final match as a team.
“It was great – we saved the best for the last. I think today was our best match. One of our best matches at least, and one of our best matches we played against them.” Mirza told reporters after the win. “To end this way, we couldn’t have asked for a better start or end. It kind of sums up our partnership”, she added. She added that Black was her great friend “But I’ve also found a great friend in her. Almost like an older sister to me. I’m the oldest in my family, so I learned a lot from her on and off the court.”
Sania Mirza participated in the International Premier Tennis League starting on 28 November 2014, playing with the Micromax Indian Aces alongside tennis legend Roger Federer countryman Rohan Bopanna top Serbian Ana Ivanovic and Frenchman Gaël Monfils. She played all the Mixed Doubles matches alongside Bopanna and partnered Federer who visited the country for his first match there in the New Delhi leg, much to her personal and fans’ delight. Sania won majority of her matches and played a key role for the Indian Aces to win the inaugural edition of the IPTL 2014.
2015: Number 1 WTA Doubles Ranking, Wimbledon and US Open Doubles Champion
Mirza began her 2015 season ranked No. 6 in the doubles rankings. She started a new partnership with then world No. 5 Hsieh Su-wei from Chinese Taipei after Cara Black decided to go for a limited 2015 season. The pair started their season at the 2015 Brisbane International as the top seeds and reached the semi-finals losing out to 4th seeds Caroline Garcia and Katarina Srebotnik in the super tie-breaker after having won the first set.
Mirza paired up with former partner and good friend American Bethanie Mattek-Sands for the Apia International and went on to win the tournament for her 23rd career title (5th with Mattek-Sands) beating the highly fancied 2nd seeds Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta in the quarters and top seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears in the finals, but lost in the second round at Melbourne. She also re-entered the Top 5 in the rankings. Sania also reached the finals of Qatar Ladies Open 2015 at Doha alongside Hsieh. The pair lost to Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears.
Mirza then ended her partnership with Hsieh Su-wei and paired up with Swiss legend Martina Hingis.The pair entered Indian Wells as the top seeds and went on to win the titles in their debut. They beat opponents including former world number ones Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur. Hingis and Mirza didn’t lose more than four games in any set. After cruising through the first set of the final, they fell behind in the second set but won the next four games to beat second seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in straight sets. They also won the Miami masters event, again beating the same opponents.Mirza jumped two places on the Ranking table to be ranked at her career best No. 3 in the Doubles Rankings.
The duo then entered the 2015 Miami Open and went to beat the same opponents in the finals making it their second title in as many tournaments. The pair did not lose a single set at the tournament, making the set score 20–0 for their newly formed partnership. Before reaching the finals at Miami the pair beat Elena Bogdan and Nicole Melichar, Gabriela Dabrowski and Alicja Rosolska, Anastasia Rodionova and Arina Rodionova, and 7th seeds Tímea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic.Thee overcame Vesnina and Makarova in the finals in straight sets.
Mirza and Hingis won 2015 Family Circle Cup’s double title in April 2015 defeating Casey Dellacqua and Darija Jurak and with the title win Mirza became the first Indian to be ranked world No. 1 in WTA’s doubles rankings.It was Sania and Hingis’ third successive title win and they have not lost as a single match since joining forces. “It’s a dream for every kid to be No. 1 one day.” Sania said after her win. And on reaching No. 1 in Charleston? she added”No tournament has been as special to me as the Family Circle Cup and no tournament will ever be as special to me, because I became No. 1 here.They were routed in the first round at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. They reached the finals of Italian Open but lost to the team of Tímea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic. They lost in the quarter finals of 2015 French Open to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Šafářováwhere the duo were the top seeds. Mirza was also given the top seeding with her partner Bruno Soares in the Mixed Doubles event. In spite of this, the pair lost in just 56 minutes against the unseeded Anna-Lena Grönefeld and Jean-Julien Rojer in the first round.
For the grass court season, Mirza was seeded No. 1 in the Birmingham Premier level event and partnered with Casey Dellacqua. However, the team crashed out of the WTA Aegon Classic following a straight set defeat in Birmingham on 18 June 2015. They lost to unseeded pair of Zheng Jie and Chan Yung-jan in the opening round.Sania Mirza and her doubles partner Martina Hingis were beaten in the semi-finals at the WTA Aegon International doubles in Eastbourne. The top seeds lost to the fourth seeded French-Slovak combine of Caroline Garcia and Katarina Srebotnik in 81 minutes.
Mirza and Hingis won the 2015 Wimbledon Championships, defeating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in three tough sets in the final. After splitting two very close sets against two-time Grand Slam champions Makarova and Vesnina, Hingis and Mirza – who were playing just their second Grand Slam together – fell behind in the third set were a game away from going out. But a fierce rally saw them draw level at 5-all, and after a half hour break for the Centre Court roof to be closed due to fading light, the No. 1-seeded Swiss-Indian duo came out stronger, breaking the No. 2-seeded Russians one last time and then serving it out for a gritty victory.The win gave Mirza her first Grand Slam title in Women’s Doubles and Hingis her tenth.
En route to the final the pair did not lose a single set against any of their opponents. In the opening two rounds the duo beat unseeded opponents, Zarina Diyas and Zheng Saisai and veteran Japanese-Italian combine of Kimiko Date-Krumm and Francesca Schiavone. 16th seeded Spaniard duo of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Arantxa Parra Santonja beating them in the third round, 9th seeds Casey Dellacqua and Yaroslava Shvedova in the quarter finals, and dominated 5th seeded Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears(who beat them earlier) in the semi finals before finally overcoming Vesnina and Makarova in the marathon final. With the win Mirza and Hingis also regain the top spot in 2015 Road to Singapore Standings trading spots with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Šafářová and became the first team to qualify for WTA Finals.
The pair reached two consecutive finals at the 2015 Rogers Cup and 2015 Western & Southern Open losing out to Caroline Garcia, Katarina Srebotnik and Hao-Ching Chan, Yung-Jan Chan respectively. At the 2015 US Open the pair entered the tournament as the top seed and went on to win the title defeating Casey Dellacqua and Yaroslava Shvedova in the finals. They did not lose a set throughout the fortnight defeating seeded opponents Michaëlla Krajicek, Barbora Strýcová, Chan sisters Sara Errani, Flavia Pennetta. This was the pair’s second straight Grand Slam title after Wimbledon. Their undefeated run continued through the rest of the year with titles at Guangzhou International Women’s Open and Premier Level Tournament 2015 Wuhan Open, and Premier Mandatory 2015 China Open defeating Shilin Xu and Xiaodi You, Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu, Chan sisters again respectively.
The pair then entered 2015 WTA Finals as heavy favourites and the top seeds and lived up to the expectations as they did not lose a single set en route to the title at the Premier Event. This was Sania’s second straight title at the Finals and she remains undefeated at the year ending tournament. The pair of Hingis-Mirza topped their group and beat the Chan’s in the semi-finals and Garbiñe Muguruza and Carla Suárez Navarro in the finals to win the title. The pair thus ended the year with a 22 match winning streak and Sania secured the year ending Num 1 ranking and wrapped up her 2015 season with 10 WTA Titles including 2 Grand Slams.
2016: Australian Open Champion, Split with Hingis
Mirza and Hingis kicked off their 2016 WTA tour in Australia by winning the tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney. In the 2016 Australian Open they were seeded first and won the Doubles title which is Mirza’s third Grandslam title.
Mirza and Hingis then proceeded to the inaugural St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy and won the title there, defeating Dushevina/Krejčíková in the final. They next played at the Qatar Open, where they suffered a shock loss to Daria Kasatkina/Elena Vesnina. That loss ended Hingis and Mirza’s 41 match winning streak. They then played the Indian Wells Masters, where they played their first tournament together, and surprisingly lost their 2nd round match against Vania King/Alla Kudryavtseva.
At the Miami Open, Mirza and Hingis again lost in the 2nd round to Margarita Gasparyan and Monica Niculescu. After losing three out of last five matches, Mirza and Hingis took a break and did not play in the Charleston Open, where they were the defending champions.
Mirza and Hingis started their clay season by reaching the finals of Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and Mutua Madrid Open, where they eventually lost to Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia in both the tournaments. They, however, managed to reach and win their third consecutive clay final in Internazionali BNL d’Italia, by defeating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the deciding tie-breaker.
In August, Mirza and Hingis announced their mutual decision to split as a team, citing last few under-par performances. However, they will together defend their WTA Finals title at Singapore.
Mirza partnered with Barbora Strýcová at the Cincinnati Masters and won their debut tournament as a team, by defeating former partner, Hingis and Coco Vandeweghe.
Next week, Mirza parterned with Monica Niculescu at the Connecticut Open as a one-off partnership and won the title by defeating Kateryna Bondarenko and Chuang Chia-jung.
Mirza and Strýcová played at US Open and were ousted in the Quarter Finals by eventual runners up Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic
Mirza teamed up with Hingis again for the 2016 WTA Finals in Singapore where she was the two time defending champion.However the team lost in the Semi finals to Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova. However, in spite of the loss Mirza finished as the Year end Number 1 for the second consecutive season.
- Beijing 2008
- London 2012
- Rio 2016
Mirza is an offensive baseliner with very powerful groundstroke and is known for setting up good attacks with the sheer velocity of her groundstrokes. Her main strength is her forehand, as well as her volleying skills. Her power game has drawn comparisons to Romanian legend Ilie Năstase.She is also a great returner of serve finding many return winners during matches. Mirza goes for winners, which means she goes for lots of angles.Mirza has said that “There’s no doubt that my forehand and backhand can match anyone, it’s about the place that they’re put in. I can hit the ball as hard as anyone can”. “I’m not that fast on my feet”, she added as her most evident weakness is her movement around the court, where Mirza usually struggles moving up and around the court. Mirza’s second serve and relatively poor mobility are often quoted as her big weaknesses. But by 2012, a series of injuries had effectively ended her singles career.
Awards and Recognition
- Arjuna Award (2004)
- WTA New Comer of the Year (2005)
- Padma Shri (2006)
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2015)
- Padma Bhushan (2016)
In the year 2014, the government of Telangana appointed Sania Mirza as the brand ambassador of the state. Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao congratulated Sania Mirza on her being awarded Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award She was named in the Time magazine’s 2016 list of 100 most influential people in the world.
In 2009, Sania Mirza became engaged to childhood friend Sohrab Mirza, a millionaire businessman. However the wedding was called off shortly after.On 12 April 2010, she married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik in a traditional Muslim wedding ceremony at the Taj Krishna Hotel in Hyderabad, India followed by Pakistani wedding customs for a mahr of ₹ 6.1 million (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 Indian sportsperson in 2010, according to Google Trends. The wedding was even more controversial because 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, Malik refused to grant the divorce claiming he was never married and as this resulted in media attention, he finally divorced the girl.
Currently, Mirza is the brand ambassador for the Indian state of Telangana.
Sania has established a tennis academy in Hyderabad. Former world No. 1s and multilple Grand Slam winners Cara Black and Martina Navratilova have both visited the academy on different occasions.
Sania Mirza was announced as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia. She is the first South Asian Woman to be appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador in the organization’s history.
In 2006, some newspapers reported that Mirza declined to play doubles with Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe’er for fear of protests from India’s Muslim community.However, she teamed up with Pe’er for the 2007 WTA Tour of Stanford, California.
Sania Mirza, along with Sunitha Rao were photographed violating the dress code at Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony parade in 2008.
On 4 February 2008, Mirza said that she would stop appearing in tennis tournaments held in India, starting with the 2008 Bangalore Open the following month, citing the series of controversies and upon advice by her manager. But Mirza chose to participate at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
After both Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna refused to play in the men’s doubles event at the 2012 Olympics with Leander Paes, Paes demanded that he be partnered with Mirza for the mixed doubles event. Mirza accused the All India Tennis Association(AITA) of using her as ‘bait’ to keep Paes happy as she wanted to play with Bhupathi, with whom she has won 2 grand slams. In the end, Mirza was paired with Paes and the pair lost in the quarterfinals of the mixed doubles.
Mirza was photographed without the Indian flag at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. In response, Mirza reaffirmed her loyalty to the land of her birth – “To see the national flag go up while standing on the podium is the proudest moment in an athlete’s life and I will want to experience that for myself in London.”
Mirza was referred to as “Pakistan’s daughter-in-law” and unfit to be a representative of an Indian state after she was appointed the Telangana state’s brand ambassador. The comment referred to Mirza’s husband, Shoaib Malik being a Pakistani cricketer. Telangana chief minister Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao presented Mirza with INR 1 crore on two separate occasions while badminton player Saina Nehwal complained that she did not receive the prize money promised to her for winning the Olympics bronze medal. However, the issue was immediately addressed by the government of Telangana.