|Real Name:||Sania Mirza|
|Profession:||Indian professional tennis player|
|Birthplace:||Bombay, Maharashtra, India|
Sania Mirza (ˈsaːnɪja ˈmɪrza; born 15 November 1986) is an Indian professional tennis player. A former doubles world No. 1, she has won six major titles – three in women’s doubles and three in mixed doubles. From 2003 until her retirement from singles in 2013, she was ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association as the Indian No. 1 in singles. Throughout her career, Mirza has established herself as one of the most well-known, highest-paid, and influential athletes in India.
In her singles career, Mirza had 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 Indian female player ever, peaking at world no. 27 in mid-2007. However, a major wrist injury caused her to shift to doubles. Mirza has achieved a number of firsts for women’s tennis in India, including reaching the $1 million USD mark in career earnings (currently over $7 million), winning a singles WTA Tour title, and winning a major title, as well as qualifying for (and eventually winning) the WTA Finals in 2014 in doubles partnering Cara Black, and defending her title the following year partnering Martina Hingis. Mirza plans to retire from professional tennis after the 2022 season.
Mirza was named one of the “50 Heroes of Asia” by Time in October 2005. In March 2010, The Economic Times named Mirza to its list of the “33 women who made India proud”. She was appointed as the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia during the International Day To End Violence Against Women on 25 November 2013. She was named in Time magazine’s 2016 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
|Born||15 November 1986
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|Turned pro||February 2003|
|Plays||Right-handed (two-handed backhand)|
|College||St. Mary’s College|
|Prize money||US$ 7,215,984|
|Career record||271–161 (62.7%)|
|Highest ranking||No. 27 (27 August 2007)|
|Grand Slam singles results|
|Australian Open||3R (2005, 2008)|
|French Open||2R (2007, 2011)|
|Wimbledon||2R (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009)|
|US Open||4R (2005)|
|Olympic Games||1R (2008)|
|Career record||531–242 (68.7%)|
|Highest ranking||No. 1 (13 April 2015)|
|Current ranking||No. 24 (8 August 2022)|
|Grand Slam doubles results|
|Australian Open||W (2016)|
|French Open||F (2011)|
|US Open||W (2015)|
|Other doubles tournaments|
|Tour Finals||W (2014, 2015)|
|Olympic Games||2R (2008)|
|Grand Slam mixed doubles results|
|Australian Open||W (2009)|
|French Open||W (2012)|
|US Open||W (2014)|
|Other mixed doubles tournaments|
|Olympic Games||SF (2016)|
|Last updated on: 13 August 2022.|
Table of Contents
Early life (Sania Mirza Biography)
Sania Mirza was born on 15 November 1986 in Mumbai to Hyderabadi Muslim parents Imran Mirza, a sports journalist, and his wife Naseema, who worked in a printing business. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to Hyderabad where she and her younger sister Anam were raised in a religious Sunni Muslim family. Anam is married to cricketer Mohammad Asaduddin, the son of former India national cricket team captain, Mohammad Azharuddin. 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. She later graduated from St. Mary’s College, Hyderabad. Mirza also received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the Dr. M.G.R. Educational and Research Institute in Chennai on 11 December 2008. Apart from tennis, Mirza is also particularly good at cricket and swimming.
Tennis career (Sania Mirza Biography)
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 with 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 quarterfinal 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.
2004–2005: Success in WTA Tour 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 with Liezel Huber. She then received a wild card to compete at the Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Casablanca, Morocco but suffered a first-round defeat to eventual champion Émilie Loit.
In August, she reached the third round at the Acura Classic, falling to Morigami. Mirza reached her second WTA final at the 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 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 singles 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 French Open Grand Slam to Anastasia Myskina.
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 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 competition, reaching the quarterfinals in the mixed doubles category 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 quarterfinals at Hobart as the No. 6 seed. She lost to Flavia Pennetta in three sets. She reached the third round at the Australian Open as the 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.
Playing in the US Open, she defeated Olga Govortsova in the first round but was double-bageled by 10th seed Flavia Pennetta in the second. She also lost in the second round of the doubles event (partnering with 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 second seed Marion Bartoli by retirement. Mirza moved on to the semifinal, where she lost to Francesca Schiavone.
2010–2012: Injury, struggles & doubles specialization
Mirza began her year at the ASB Classic in Auckland. She won her first-round match against Stefanie Vögele, but was crushed by fourth seed Francesca Schiavone in the second round. Mirza then suffered two first-round losses at the Moorilla Hobart International and the Australian Open. In February, Mirza competed in the Pattaya Open as the sixth 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 French Open.
Mirza and her American partner Mattek-Sands advanced to the third round of the women’s doubles competition at Wimbledon, where they fell to the Williams sisters. On 26 June 2012, Sania Mirza was awarded a wild card entry hence confirming her participation in the women’s doubles event at the London Olympics. On 17 July 2012, Mirza and her partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands were ousted in the first round of the WTA Premier event in the US.
Mirza, partnering Rushmi Chakravarthy in the women’s doubles competition at Olympics, bowed out, losing to the Chinese Taipei team in a tight match. She also lost in the quarterfinals of mixed doubles with Leander Paes to Belarus in a tough encounter. At the Premier Mandatory events in 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 the Australian Open, Mirza 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 Championships in February. They had to retire in their round of 16 matches at the French Open after having won the first set against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Šafářová. They also lost in R16 at Wimbledon. Mirza 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. Mirza then partnered with 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 Errani and Roberta Vinci, en route. Mirza partnered with different players in 2013 and won five WTA titles.
“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.”
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 with Federer who visited the country for his first match there in the New Delhi leg, much to her personal and fans’ delight. Mirza won the majority of her matches and played a key role in the Indian Aces winning the inaugural edition of the IPTL 2014.
2015–2016: Rise to world No. 1 and women’s doubles major titles
Mirza began her 2015 season ranked No. 6 in the doubles rankings. She started a new partnership with the 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 a former partner and good friend American Bethanie Mattek-Sands for the Sydney International and went on to win the tournament for her 23rd career title (fifth with Mattek-Sands) beating the highly fancied second seeds Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta in the quarterfinals 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. Mirza also reached the finals of the Qatar Ladies Open 2015 in Doha alongside Hsieh. The pair lost to Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears.
Mirza and Hingis started their clay season by reaching the finals of the Porsche Grand Prix and Madrid Open, where they eventually lost to Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia in both tournaments. They, however, managed to reach and win their third consecutive clay final in Internazionali d’Italia, by defeating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the deciding tie-breaker.
2017–2018: Split with Hingis, maternity leave
In August 2016, Mirza and Hingis announced their mutual decision to split as a team, citing their last few under-par performances, with the 2016 WTA Finals in Singapore being their last event together. Mirza partnered with Barbora Strýcová in late 2016 (winning two titles) and some parts of the 2017 season. In 2017, her sole title came at Brisbane, where she played alongside her friend Mattek-Sands. However, Mirza struggled to find a committed partner to play with in the 2017 season, which resulted in her falling out of the top 5. The last tournament she played was the China Open, where she lost in the semifinals partnering with Peng Shuai.
Mirza missed the first few tournaments of the 2018 season, including the Australian Open, citing a knee injury she sustained in October 2017. In early February 2018, Mirza said the same injury would keep her out of competition for a further two months. In April, Mirza announced on Instagram that she was pregnant with her first child, with her husband Shoaib Malik. In late October, Mirza delivered a baby boy.
2020: Winning return (Sania Mirza Biography)
In late 2018, Mirza announced she hoped to return to professional tennis in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics. After having celebrated her son’s first birthday and having spent more than two years off the professional circuit, she returned to the tour at Hobart International in January 2020 playing alongside Nadiia Kichenok. The newly formed team won the tournament beating second seeds Peng Shuai/Zhang Shuai in the final. However, the team lost their first-round match at the 2020 Australian Open because of a calf injury suffered by Mirza. She played at the 2020 Summer Olympics with Ankita Raina but lost to the Ukrainian Pair of Lyudmyla Kichenok and Nadiia Kichenok in the first round. This was Mirza’s third consecutive first-round exit in the women’s doubles event at the Olympics.
2022: French Open third round, three WTA 1000 semifinals, back to top 25
She reached the semifinals at the WTA 1000 Qatar Open and the Italian Open as well as the French Open third round, partnering with Lucie Hradecká.
At the Canadian Open, she reached the quarterfinals of a WTA 1000 level partnering Madison Keys where they defeated top seeds Elise Mertens and Veronika Kudermetova. Next, they defeated Sofia Kenin and Yulia Putintseva to reach the semifinals.
Playing style (Sania Mirza Biography)
Mirza is an offensive baseliner with very powerful groundstrokes 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 to find many return winners during matches. Mirza goes for winners, which means she goes from many 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 (Sania Mirza Biography)
- Arjuna Award (2004)
- WTA Newcomer of the Year (2005)
- Padma Shri (2006)
- Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna (2015)
- BBC list of 100 inspiring women (2015)
- Padma Bhushan (2016)
- NRI of the Year (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 the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. She was named in Time magazine’s 2016 list of 100 most influential people in the world.
Personal life (Sania Mirza Biography)
In 2009, Sania Mirza became engaged to Sohrab Mirza. However, the wedding was called off shortly after. On 12 April 2010, she married Shoaib Malik in a traditional Hyderabadi 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 Sialkot, Pakistan.
The couple announced their first pregnancy on social media on 23 April 2018. In October 2018, Shoaib Malik announced on Twitter that Mirza had delivered a baby boy and named him Izhaan Mirza Malik.
Other activities (Sania Mirza Biography)
In 2014, Mirza was the brand ambassador for the Indian state of Telangana to promote the interests of the then-newly-created state.
Mirza has established a tennis academy in Hyderabad. Former world No. 1s and multiple Grand Slam winners Cara Black and Martina Navratilova have both visited the academy on different occasions.
Sania Mirza was announced as the 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.
Controversies (Sania Mirza Biography)
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.
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 from her manager. But Mirza chose to participate in 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.
Sania Mirza, along with Sunitha Rao, was photographed violating the dress code at the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony parade in 2008. In response, Mirza reaffirmed 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 ₹1 crore on two occasions. She was summoned by the tax department for non-payment of service tax on the payment received, however, she responded that the ₹1 crore given was a training incentive, and not towards becoming the state’s brand ambassador.
Career statistics (Sania Mirza Biography)
Grand Slam performance timelines
Grand Slam finals (Sania Mirza Biography)
Women’s doubles: 4 (3 titles, 1 runner–up)
Mixed doubles: 7 (3 titles, 4 runner–ups)
Autobiography (Sania Mirza Biography)
In July 2016, Mirza published an autobiography titled Ace Against Odds chronicling her journey to the top. The book also lists some of her memorable encounters on and off the court and talks about the people and relationships that have contributed to Mirza’s growth as a person and a sportsperson.