Injuries and inconsistent form may have prevented Sania Mirza from fulfilling her potential but there is no denying that she remains one of India's most successful sportswomen. At the 2014 US Open, Sania won her third Grand Slam title. Sania-Soares defeated the unseeded Abigail Spears and Santiago Gonzalez in the mixed doubles final.
On June 7, 2012, Sania won her second Grand Slam title when she triumphed in the French Open mixed doubles with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi. She had also won the 2009 Australian Open, that victory also coming with Bhupathi. Â
Sania was only six years old when she started playing lawn tennis at the Nizam Club in her home town of Hyderabad. Now the 27-year-old is well-known for her powerful forehand groundstrokes.
Sania is the first Indian to break into top 30 of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) rankings in singles and top 5 in doubles. During her singles career, she defeated many top players including Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva and Marion Bartoli besides former world number ones Martina Hingis and Dinara Safina.
Along with her Zimbabwean partner Cara Black, Sania has won four women's doubles career titles -- two in Oeiras, Portugal and one each inÂ Tokyo and Beijing. She has already collected a career prize money of over 3 million dollars.
But life has been a mixed bag for the Indian tennis star. Born on November 15, 1986 in Mumbai, she has had three surgeries, on her wrist and both knees.
"I think a sportsman looks at these things a bit differently. We just give it our best shot and try to take victories and defeats in our stride," a brave Sania had once said after the defeat at the 2012 French Open.
Keeping sporting spirits high were probably instilled in her by C.G. Krishna Bhupathi, father of Indian tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi, who was her coach at the Nizam Club in Hyderabad. She later practised at Sinnet Tennis Academy in Secunderabad and then at Ace Tennis Academy in the United States.
Sania's first appearance in the international arena was while representing India at the World Junior Championship in 1999 held at Jakarta. She is the first Indian to have entered the third round of Australian Open 2005. In 2004, Sania was honoured with the prestigious Arjuna award and in 2006, a Padma Shri.
Sania was engaged to childhood friend Sohrab Mirza in 2009 but the engagement was called off. She wanted to marry a sportsperson and started seeing Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. They were married on April 12, 2010 in Hyderabad followed by ceremonies at Sialkot and Lahore in Pakistan.
Controversies are not new to her either. Wearing short tennis clothes provoked some Muslim religious groups to criticise her. After she spoke at a conference on safe sex in November 2005, some Muslim leaders said Sania was detached from Islam and that she was a "corrupting influence on the youth." Sania clarified her stance by saying that she was opposed to pre-marital sex.
At the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, people were happy that she has started to play again at major tournaments in India. Recently, Sania replied bluntly to people who argued she was not a patriotic Indian just because she had married a Pakistani. Sania said her whole family belonged to Hyderabad since generations and that she was a proud Indian.