Sania Mirza has arguably already achieved a Hall of Fame career, winning six major titles—three in each women’s and mixed doubles—and became the first Indian woman to reach world No. 1 in 2015. Back on tour after giving birth to son Izhaan in 2018, countrywoman and tennis trailblazer Nirupama Sanjeev predicts further success is hers for the taking.

“I don't think her career is over yet,” says Sanjeev. “I think she will be bringing more excitement in the coming months.”

Giving an in-depth interview to Sportskeeda, Sanjeev became the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam main draw match in 1998, reaching the second round of that year’s Australian Open.

Mirza met that milestone at Roland Garros in 2005, and, playing in front of her home crowd in Hyderabad, became the first from her country to win a WTA singles title that same year.

“Sania Mirza's impact has been tremendous. Before Sania, I don't think there was this much excitement about women's sport in India. As the first person to bring this kind of excitement, she popularized the sport more than anyone else has.”


Peaking inside the Top 30 in singles, Mirza’s greatest successes have come in doubles, most famously with fellow former No. 1 Martina Hingis. Together, the team known as Santina swept three consecutive major titles between 2015 and 2016, enjoying a 44-match winning streak in that time.

She returned to the tour in early 2020 following her maternity leave to immediate success, winning a doubles title with Nadiia Kichenok at the Hobart International. Sidelined by the pandemic, Mirza won her first major main-draw match since becoming a mother at this year’s Wimbledon Championships, reaching the second round alongside good friend Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

“It's sort of like what happened with Saina [Nehwal] in badminton,” Sanjeev says of Mirza’s return. “Sania's comeback story is going to be so amazing because she is single minded, she wants it, and she's hungry.”

Click here to read the full interview with Najeev, who discusses current Indian star Ankita Raina and what it may take to raise a next generation of tennis stars from a country of over one billion people.