Born in Mumbai, India in 1986, tennis star Sania Mirza showed interest in the sport at the age of six. Her dreams came into fruition in 2003, when she started playing professionally at the age of 17. That same year Mirza won the Girls’ Doubles title at Wimbledon and four gold medals in the Afro-Asian Games held in Hyderabad, India.
Three years later she received the Padma Shri award, one of the highest civilian honours bestowed upon by the government of India.
With so much traction at the start of her career, some wondered if Mirza would be able to sustain being a powerful force on the court. Despite a 2008 wrist injury, Mirza proved doubters wrong in 2009, when she became the first Indian woman to win a senior grand slam title when she teamed up with Mahesh Bupathi and won the Australian Open mixed doubles.
It is an honor to serve UN Women as the Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia. It inspires me to work harder towards a level playing field for women. Gender equity in sports as well as using sports to advocate for gender equality in communities is essential. Equality depends on each and all of us. From the government that changes its laws, to the company that advances equal pay and equal opportunity, to the mother and father who teach their daughter and son that all human beings should be treated equally, to the athletes who demonstrate equality and excellence.
Sania Mirza/ www.unwomen.org
Her ability to stay focused on tennis while pushing back to media outlets that criticized some of her life choices — like not getting married young or being fashion forward — only further captivated audiences. In 2010, Google ranked Mirza as the most searched Indian sports personality.
Committed to empowering women through promoting gender equality, in 2013, she was appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia and became the first South Asian woman to be appointed as an ambassador in the organization’s history. In 2015 she also was the recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the highest sporting award given by the government of India.
Mirza was included in the Forbes India Celebrity 100 list every year from 2012 to 2016 and was listed as one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2016.
Mirza is one of the most successful tennis players in Indian history winning six grand slam titles, earning #1 seed in doubles tennis, and winning a total of 14 medals (including six gold) at the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Afro-Asian Games.
You have to dust yourself off after each painful loss and prepare yourself for the next win, day after day.
Sania Mirza/Business Insider India
She married Shoaib Malik, a professional cricket player, in 2010 and happily announced her pregnancy news in April 2018, further proving that no female (or person) should ever be boxed into one category.
Mirza’s ability to achieve phenomenal career success and balance having a family make her a powerful force to be reckoned with. Mirza aims to return to the courts for the 2020 Olympics after giving birth and we’re excited to see what’s next.
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