Elusive Olympic medal remains Sania Mirza’s final frontier

The Indian tennis superstar also admitted that becoming no. 1 in women’s doubles was one of the biggest achievements of her career. 

By Andre Pitts ·

The biggest disappointment of Sania Mirza’s professional career remains her 'nearly moment' at the Rio 2016 Olypics.

Playing in her third Olympics, Sania Mirza came agonizingly close to winning a medal with Rohan Bopanna in the mixed doubles.

However, successive defeats in the semi-final and then the bronze medal match meant that Sania Mirza and partner Rohan Bopanna left the Games empty-handed.

“Losing in the match to go into the final at the Olympics and then losing out for the medal in the semis when we played for bronze (is my biggest disappointment). Two days in a row,” Sania Mirza said in a chat with Indian tennis’ Purav Raja on his Instagram show, Chai with Raja on Sunday.

Pitted against Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic, the Indian pair - who had upstaged the British pair of Andy Murray and Heather Watson in the quarter-final - went down 1-6, 6-7 in the bronze playoff.

Sania Mirza made a winning return to tennis at the Hobart International earlier this year

Sania Mirza currently has six Grand Slam titles to her name after a superb doubles career.

The elusive Olympic medal, though, is still very much on her mind.

“The only thing that I think I can achieve or could have done before was win a medal at the Olympics,” she said while talking about her remaining goals.

The Hyderabadi tennis star also considers topping the doubles ranking a bigger achievement than breaking into the top-30 in singles.

“No. 1 in doubles a greater achievement for me than being no. 27 in singles because being no. 1 in the world in anything is a great achievement,” she reasoned.

Future of women’s tennis in India

While Sania Mirza has achieved a lot, not many women tennis players from India have come close.

And she feels it’s because not many in the country get adequate guidance early on.

“I can’t put it down to one sole reason, but I think the guidance and coaching that women get starts very late,” elaborated Sania Mirza, who made a winning return to tennis at the Hobart International following a two-year hiatus after the birth of her son.

“Someone like a Sumit (Nagal) has been out since he was 13-14 and I haven’t seen any girl who has done that. That kind of coaching and exposure (is lacking) and when they do make that move I think it’s late,” Sania added.

Despite having to stay away from the tennis courts due to the COVID-19 pandemic enforced lockdown in India, Sania Mirza has been keeping busy by doing her bit to help the less fortunate.

A Fed Cup Heart Award nominee, she has urged everyone to help the needy besides raising funds for daily workers herself.

She also made a brief appearance at the Facebook-initiated I For India fundraiser concert on Sunday, which promised 100 per cent of its proceeds for COVID-19 relief efforts.

Besides Sania Mirza, it featured other sportspersons leading actors, musicians, singers, and business leaders.