New Delhi: Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza expressed her delight at having been recommended for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the country’s highest sporting award, on Tuesday. Sania, who became the first Indian woman to achieve the World No.1 spot in doubles, recently clinched the Wimbledon crown with Swiss star Martina Hingis. She has four Grand Slam titles. The Hyderabadi is only the second tennis player after Leander Paes to be named for the top sports award. Paes received the honour in 1996 after clinching the bronze medal at the Atlanta Summer Olympics.
The 28-year-old, who is currently playing in Toronto with Hingis, took to social networking site Twitter to share her happiness. “Whooaa ???????? waking up in Toronto to the most amazing news from back home.. Thank you everyone .. Thank you so much #soblessed #khelratna,” she tweeted.
She had also received the Arjuna award in 2004 and was awarded the Padma Shri — the country’s fourth highest civilian honour — in 2006. Sania’s name was recommended by an awards committee headed by Justice V.K. Bali, the retired Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court.
The panel also includes former archer Dola Banerjee, ex-hockey star M.M. Somayya and top sports ministry officials. Earlier on Tuesday, reports emerged that Sania’s recommendation for the award has been accepted by the government.