The former doubles world no. 1 returned to court recently and is helping the Indian tennis team to a Fed Cup playoff spot but wants more women to take up the mantle.
Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza, who has been the torch-bearer for the sport in her country for more than 15 years, wants more women to compete at the highest level and play for the country.
“We have Ankita (Raina) who is playing at this level but I do think the other girls are slightly on a lower level than she is,” Sania Mirza told the Fed Cup’s official website on the sidelines of the ongoing tournament in Dubai. “We should have at least 10 more girls waiting in line to get into this team, who are very close to each other.”
The Indian tennis pro, a former junior Wimbledon champion and six-time Grand Slam winner in the doubles, demanded a better structure be put in place back home to identify and then nurture the talent that she believes exists in abundance.
“I do believe we do have talent at home – there are a lot more guys coming out and are in the top 100 or top 150 or in doubles, but in the women it is a bit scarce, it’s too long a gap.
“I mean I turned pro in 2003, we’re in 2020 and we’re still waiting for someone to be in the top 50 in the world,” Sania Mirza pointed out.
“That system needs to be put in place for us to be able to produce champions on a regular basis, otherwise it’s going to be every 20-25 years, unfortunately.”
Sania Mirza, who is making a first appearance at the Fed Cup for the Indian tennis team since 2016, helped her nation to victories in both of her appearances, against South Korea and Chinese Taipei to keep them on second spot, one below China in Group I of the Asia/Oceania qualifiers.
The top two from the group progress to the Fed Cup playoffs next month and so the Indian tennis team is currently in a position of strength and Sania Mirza is always up for the challenge.
“I think Taipei and China are probably the favourites. But if we’re able to win a singles match, obviously then I come into play and the dynamics change a little bit, but having said that it’s still no guarantee because you’re still playing against people who are really, really good,” she admitted.
The Indian tennis team will be looking to consolidate their position in the Fed Cup Group 1 table when they take on Indonesia on Saturday.