Sania Mirza won the Fed Cup Heart award from the Asia/Oceania zone on Monday, making her the first Indian tennis player to do so.
The award was decided by an online poll of fans, of which the former doubles world no.1 garnered nearly 60 per cent of the 17,000 votes cast, to beat Indonesian teen Priska Madelyn Nogroho.
“It’s an honour to win the Fed Cup Heart Award as the first Indian,” she said. “I dedicate this award to the entire country and to all my fans and thank everyone for voting for me. I hope to bring more laurels to the country in the future.
The Indian tennis ace, who was also the first Indian nominee for the award, joined the likes of former French and Australian Open champion Li Na, and former world no. 4 Japanese veteran Kimiko Date on the winners’ list.
Mexican Fernanda Contreras Gomez and Estonian Anett Kontaveit won from the Americas and Europe/Africa zones respectively while Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, who ended the legendary Serena Williams’ 14-match unbeaten Fed Cup streak in February, won in the qualifiers’ category.
Sania Mirza, who won $2,000 as prize money, has decided to contribute the amount to the Telangana Chief Ministers’ relief fund to help out with the fight against COVID-19 in India.
A magnificent comeback year
The Fed Cup Heart award was established by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in 2009 to recognize players who displayed incredible commitment and represented their nations with distinction.
Sania Mirza, who has been a flag-bearer for Indian tennis and a constant source of inspiration for women, only added to that status when she returned to the tennis court earlier this year.
The veteran also returned to the Indian tennis team for the Fed Cup after four years and remained unbeaten as they clinched the second spot in Asia/Oceania Group I to make their way to a maiden Fed Cup playoffs.