Award will motivate me to play for few more years: Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza, who received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, talks to Chander Shekhar Luthra about the honour and upcoming US Open
Sania Sania Mirza receives the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award from President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sania

Sania Mirza receives the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award from President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Saturday BB Yadav
On receiving the award from President Pranab Mukherjee
It was a great honour and a humbling experience to receive the Khel Ratna award from the President of India. As an athlete, we always work hard to bring medal glory to the nation, to win as many tournaments as possible. It feels great when the government recognises your efforts and confers you with the highest sporting honour in the country. An award like this will motivate me to work harder and play for few more years.
Tennis has been my life and I am fortunate enough to enjoy a fruitful journey all these years. The game has given me everything. I had set two targets for this year, winning a Grand Slam and reaching the World No.1, which I did achieve. It feels great to fulfil both the biggest targets of my life.

On going into US Open as favourites to win women’s doubles with Martina Hingis
We are in top form, having played so many matches together. We know each other’s game well. The moment we step on the court, people expect us to win and that’s a genuine expectation because we have been playing some amazing tennis together. We will try hard to win the US Open. It feels great to be labelled the favourites. We play well on the hard court and the surface suits us.

On defending the mixed doubles title with Bruno Soares
We are the defending champions and the goal would be to retain our title. We were unlucky to lose in the Wimbledon quarterfinals despite having two match points. We played one bad match in the French Open. We know it’s going to be tough when you play for just four times in a year. After the US Open, we will see what to do.

On winning a medal at the next year’s Rio Olympics?
I just set short-term goals and I am not thinking about Rio right now. Who knows how I will be in the next few months, and the same goes for other Indian athletes. But, I hope we do well and win a medal in Rio

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award: Sania Mirza
Arjuna Award: PR Sreejesh (hockey), Dipa Karmakar (gymnastics), Jitu Rai (shooting), Sandeep Kumar (archery), Mandeep Jangra (boxing), Babita (wrestling), Bajrang (wrestling), Rohit Sharma (cricket), K Srikanth (badminton), Swarn Singh Virk (rowing), Satish Sivalingam (weightlifting), Santhoi Devi (wushu), Sharath Gaekwad (para-sailing), M R Poovamma (athletics), Manjeet Chhillar (kabaddi), Abhilasha Mhatre (kabaddi), Anup Kumar Yama (rollerskating)
Droncharya Award: Naval Singh (athletics), Anoop Singh (wrestling), Harbans Singh (athletics, lifetime), Swatantar Raj Singh (boxing, lifetime), Nihar Ameen (swimming, lifetime)
Dhyan Chand Award: Romeo James (hockey), Shiv Prakash Mishra (tennis), TPP Nair (volleyball)