Sania Mirza nominated for Fed Cup Heart Award

Indian tennis great is among the 10 players who have been nominated for the award that recognises their contribution to the national team.

By Naveen Peter

Indian tennis star Sania Mirza has been nominated for the Fed Cup Heart award in recognition of her performances at the 2020 event.

Sania Mirza, who returned to the competition after last featuring in 2016, was in top form for the Indian side as they went on to seal their place in the play-off round for the first time in history.

While Sania Mirza and Priska Madelyn Nugroho of Indonesia have been nominated for the award from the Asia/Oceania region, Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit and Luxembourg’s Eleonora Molinaro from Europe/Africa; Fernanda Contreras Gomez of Mexico and Paraguay’s Verónica Cepede Royg from the Americas make up the list of nominees for the award from the regional groups.

These players join Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Leylah Annie Fernandez, Carla Suarez Navarro and Anastasija Sevastova, who put up some incredible show in the qualifiers round, to make up the list of nominees for the award.

The winner will be decided based on an online poll which begins on May 1 with the winner being declared on May 11.

The return of Sania Mirza

Pitted in Group I of the Asia/Oceania section, India played the likes of China, South Korea and Indonesia among others in a round-robin competition.

The Indian team had quality players like Ankita Raina and Rutuja Bhosale, apart from Sania Mirza, who put up a solid performance to finish second behind the Chinese to make it to the playoffs, which has been deferred because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Making her first Fed Cup appearance since 2016 and with 18-month-old son Izhaan watching from the stands, Sania Mirza went 3-0 in doubles for India, including a victory in the decisive doubles that secured their place in April’s Play-offs,” read the Fed Cup statement explaining why Sania Mirza was nominated for the award.

This has been a special year for Sania Mirza. So far, it saw the Hyderabad-born great return to the tennis circuit after an 18-month break where she gave birth to her son Izhaan.

Getting back into her groove at the WTA Hobart International event at the start of the season, Sania Mirza ensured that she went the distance to clinch the title with her Ukrainian partner Nadiia Kichenok.

“I have won a lot of titles in my life, but that feeling of winning when I won in Hobart was irreplaceable,” Sania Mirza told the Olympic Channel recollecting her win at the start of the season.

“I knew that I had earned that and that I had earned it for myself and my son. And I earned after a battle with so much more. It was not just about working hard and your talent. It was also now taking care of a baby while being on the road and also having given birth... That satisfaction, that emotional satisfaction, I have never felt before.”

Getting back in the mix

While the title in Hobart was a perfect return for Sania Mirza, the former world number one in doubles, the experience helped her bury a few doubts that had crept in while she was away from the court.

“Definitely. Not just when I first played, even the first time I entered the premises for practice and stuff,” she said about her first time she entered the Domain Tennis Centre.

“The first time I stepped back on to court was also the toughest. You know, you have so many doubts. You don't know if you are going to be able to play at a certain level. You are playing some of the best people in the world. There's so much that goes on."

“But also, I was really happy. I remember having those nerves. But I also remember being happy and proud of myself to have been able to put myself in that position to compete at that level. Winning or losing was secondary at that point.”

Sania Mirza is currently at her home in Hyderabad but has been unable to practice despite access to a tennis court due to lack of a training partner.