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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sania is only second tennis player to be named for Khel Ratna

Sania is only second tennis player to be named for Khel Ratna

August 11, 2015 16:50 IST

The 28-year-old beat back competition from squash player Deepika Pallikal, discus thrower Vikas Gowda, track and field star Tintu Luka, rising shuttler P V Sindhu, and hockey captain Sardar Singh for the coveted honour.

Sania Mirza

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulates Sania Mirza. Photograph: PTI

Sania Mirza was recommended for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award on Tuesday. She is only the second tennis player ever to be named for the country's highest sporting honour.

Currently ranked world number one in women's doubles, she scripted history by becoming the first Indian to clinch a women's doubles Grand Slam title when she partnered Swiss great Martina Hingis to triumph at Wimbledon earlier this year.

Sania is only the second tennis player after Leander Paes to be named for the top award. Paes was conferred the honour way back in 1996 after his bronze medal win in the Atlanta Olympics.

The 28-year-old, who has won three mixed doubles Grand Slams in her career, beat back competition from squash player Deepika Pallikal, discus thrower Vikas Gowda, track and field star Tintu Luka, rising shuttler P V Sindhu, and hockey captain Sardar Singh for the coveted honour.

Besides doing well on the professional circuit, she also won the gold and bronze medal in the mixed and women's doubles categories at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

The Hyderabadi girl had won the Arjuna award in 2004 and was favourite for the top award this year.

In 2006, she was conferred the Padma Shri -- the country's fourth highest civilian honour.

Sania's mixed doubles titles were at the Australian Open (2009), French Open (2012) and US Open (2014).

Her name was recommended by a Sports Ministry-constituted awards committee headed by Justice V K Bali, a retired High Court Chief Justice of the Kerala high court.

The committee included eminent athletes and sports journalists apart from top officials of the Sports Ministry.

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