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Home Tennis Flashback Friday: When 18-year-old Sania Mirza faced Serena Williams in grand slam...

Flashback Friday: When 18-year-old Sania Mirza faced Serena Williams in grand slam match

In the 2005 Australian Open, Sania reached the third round where she set up a dream contest against Serena Williams.

Sania Mirza has been a trailblazer of women’s sports in India. She has been arguably India’s best-ever women’s tennis player. While the country had produced a fair share of men’s tennis players since the 1970s, from Vijay Amritraj to the likes of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi — who have won 18 and 13 Doubles Grand Slams respectively — it for long had lacked a bonafide female superstar.

Mirza, along with her partner Martina Hingis, has won 14 titles together and establishing themselves as one of the finest women’s doubles pairs in the Open era. She became the first Indian to be ranked World No 1 after occupying the position in the WTA doubles rankings in 2015.

However, before Mirza switched to doubles tennis, she was carving out a path in the singles game. After a good show in the junior circuit and winning the 2003 Wimbledon Girls’ Doubles title, Mirza continued the form in the senior circuit as well.

In the 2005 Australian Open,  she beat Cindy Watson and Petra Mandula in Melbourne to reach the third round where she set up a dream contest against Serena Williams. She was beaten in straight sets 1-6, 4-6 against the eventual champion.

Barely a month later, Mirza created more history in her hometown after beating Ukranian Alona Bondarenko in a three-setter at the Hyderabad Open, becoming the first Indian female tennis player to win a WTA title. She kept growing in confidence and delivered another promising performance at the Dubai Tennis Championships, where she reached the quarter-finals. She beat Jelena Kostanic Tosic in three sets after losing the first, but her best performance came in the next round when she upset reigning US Open champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova. She beat Mashona Washington and Maria Camerin in the first two rounds before creating history with a straight-sets win over France’s Marion Bartoli. Despite being broken in the very first game of the match, Mirza battled back and survived a few scares in the first set to win in the tie-breaker.

Mirza reached the fourth round of the US Open, where she was beaten 2-6, 1-6 by then-World No.1 Maria Sharapova.

Also read: When journalist Rajdeep Sardesai asked a sexist question to Sania Mirza

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