Mumbai: Not satisfied with winning the WTA Finals doubles crown with Zimbabwean Cara Black and a clutch of other prestigious titles this year, Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza on Thursday said she wants to clinch the women's doubles Grand Slam title before hanging up her tennis shoes.
"I am definitely looking for that women's doubles Grand Slam. I have won the world championship now, have won the mixed doubles title three times. I am definitely looking forward to a women's doubles Grand Slam and, hopefully, that happens before I stop playing," Sania told PTI.
Sania was a finalist at the 2011 French Open with her Russian partner Elena Vesnina. The 28-year-old from Hyderabad has had her share of injuries. She almost thought her career was over in 2010.
"None of my injuries were because I was unfit really. My wrist was suffering because of the bone condition that I have and my joints are extremely mobile. I thought my career was over in 2010 when I wasn't able to comb my hair for six months. For me, this is a second life to my career," she said.
Sania said she is excited to partner Chinese Taipei's Su-Wei Hsieh in women's doubles next year after ending her successful partnership with Black. "Me and Cara, we played really well. We have had a great year and I am looking forward to a new relationship to be built on that and hopefully have a great year," she said.
Asked how difficult it is to play with a new partner, Sania said, "It is a little hard. It is not devastating but it is a little hard. You need to understand each other. Hopefully get along with each other on and off the court. If you get along off the court then it is better. But you have to work on it like any other relationship."
The Hyderabad star will be next seen in action in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) where she would be in the same team as Swiss veteran Roger Federer. She said the IPTL and Vijay Amritraj's Champions Tennis League would help the sport in the country.
"I think leagues are doing well in every sport and I think that will help sport grow. Definitely having these iconic players and the best-evers (former players) coming to the country is definitely going to help tennis a lot in this country," Sania said.
Sania, who won the women's doubles bronze in the last Asian Games in Incheon with Prarthana Thombare, felt the talent in women's tennis in the country is improving. "They are getting a little better now. We had a bit of a lull in the middle. The fact that we were able to win a bronze medal for the first time ever says a lot.
"I do understand that I was playing but there was a girl next to me as well who was good enough to play and that means a lot. I give credit to her for being able to play at that standard. So, obviously there is a lot of talent and I hope that more talented players arrive who can take the next step and next leap," she said.
Sania said she could have made it into the top 20 in singles but had to leave it as it was taking a toll on her body. "I have had three surgeries. I have a bone condition, a joint condition. I was 27 in the world. After Vijay (Amritraj) or Ramesh (Krishnan) there has been no one - whether a man or a woman - (from India) in the top 30.
"I would have loved to be in the top 20, of course, because we are greedy as tennis players and we are never going to be satisfied. But with my body, I had to take that call." Sania said 17-time Grand Slam singles champion Federer's style reminds her of iconic fictional spy - James Bond.
"He is as classy as any man can get, probably like James Bond. He will win a few Grand Slams and you can almost picture him doing that to his cufflink and walking away like nothing happened. I think (he is) classy and understated and a little charming," she said.
Sania supported ban-threatened woman boxer Sarita Devi. "My heart goes out to her. As an athlete, I completely understand her emotion. It is a little unfortunate what happened but it was all emotion and heart really. She was obviously not thinking. My heart goes out to her and I hope she comes back soon (after her expected ban by world boxing body AIBA)."