She is no stranger to scripting firsts for India in the tennis world and in yet another recognition of the contribution and popularity of Sania Mirza, the 33-year-old has now bagged India’s maiden Fed Cup Heart Award. The former doubles world no. 1 won the award in the Asia/Oceania category with over 10,000 votes out of the total 16,985 votes by virtue of online voting by fans. In the Asia/Oceania regional category, six-time Grand Slam winner, Sania Mirza was pitted against Indonesia’s 16-year-old Priska Madelyn Nugroho.
The Fed Cup Heart Award is an International Tennis Federation (ITF) initiative that was established in 2009 to recognise those Fed Cup players who represent their countries with distinction, show exceptional courage on the court, and demonstrate outstanding commitment to the ideals of the competition. Soon after the announcement of her rather convincing win, the Hyderabadi confirmed that she will be donating the $2000 prize money to Telangana Chief Minister’s Relief Fund which in the current climate will be to aid the fight against Coronavirus.
Accepting the award, Sania Mirza said, "It’s an honour to win the Fed Cup Heart Award as the first Indian. I dedicate this award to the entire country and to all my fans and thank everyone for voting for me. I hope to bring more laurels to the country in the future. I want to donate the money that I get from this award to the Telangana Chief Minister’s Relief Fund as the world is going through very difficult times with the virus."
Speaking exclusively to Republic TV Sania looked back at the years, "I first represented India in Fed Cup 17 years ago in 2003 and for someone who is as passionate at representing my country as me, this is an ultimate acknowledgement of playing my heart out for India. It is a matter of great pride for me and I will treasure this award forever."
"It has been my cherished dream to play a part in taking Indian women's tennis to the next level and it's amazing to have qualified this year for the Fed Cup World Group Play-offs. I look forward to giving our best shot against Latvia along with our young team of talented girls," she added.
Only a month ago on April 13, Sania celebrated the 5th anniversary of her No.1 ranking, a culmination of years of hard work. Earlier this year, Sania made a return to the court after motherhood, winning her very first tournament. Since then, COVID-19 has played havoc with sporting schedules and there is very little clarity on how much tennis will be possible anymore in 2020.