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Moments like these make your hard work seem worthwhile: Sania Mirza

Derek Abraham: You won the girls’ doubles title at Wimbledon 12 years ago. What does it mean to complete such a rare ‘double’?

This is where it all began for me 12 years ago. In 2003, I won the girls’ doubles title (with Alisa Alisa Kleybanova of Russia). Saturday’s win was, in many ways, a fulfilment of my evolution as a tennis player. Prior to this victory, I had won the French Open, the Australian Open and the US Open (at the senior level). The only trophy missing was Wimbledon. Besides, until last (Saturday) night, I had not won a Grand Slam title in women’s doubles.

It’s been a special journey for Martina Hingis too…
Yes, she was as excited as I was and it’s amazing that she managed to win at Wimbledon again after 18 years.

What is it that clicks for you as a team? The two of you are always at ease, smiling, giggling, high-fiving. We haven’t seen you this happy on a tennis court!
We get along well on and off the court and it is important to have the right chemistry to do well. Besides, my strengths complement hers very well and that’s what makes us a dangerous team for opponents to handle.

Please take us through that third set. Down 2-5, what was going on in your head?
Despite being down, Martina and I were very positive and were thoroughly enjoying the experience of performing on Centre Court. We kept reminding each other that it was just a question of one break and we did manage to break back. That shifted the momentum in our favour. It is moments like these that make all the pain and hard work seem worthwhile.

Martina has won a lot of Indian fans for sure. By partnering you and Leander, she has told the world that Indian tennis players are world class…
Yes, she is very popular all over the world and now especially so in India.

What does an experienced player like her bring to the table?
She has been there before and knows what it takes to win at the highest level. She is a big-match player and has the ability to raise her level in crunch situations.

You keep getting asked about this all the time. How do you continue to fight the odds? Your achievements go a long way in motivating even a little girl in a faraway village. Is that what keeps you going?
I like to dream big but also believe in backing up the dream with a lot of sweat and blood to make it come true.

You pocketed £170,000 for this win. Serena Williams took home more than 10 times that amount. Don’t doubles players deserve a better deal?
I am not here to fight the system. I just want to play to the best of my ability for as long as I enjoy it.

What next? Do you dream of a ‘Career Slam’ with Martina?
Right now, I just want to enjoy the moment.

Sania had won the women’s doubles junior Wimbledon championship with Russian partner Alisa Kleybanova in 2003.

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