New Delhi: Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza, who will receive the prestigious Khel Ratna award, said her former mixed doubles partner Mahesh Bhupathi too is a deserving candidate for the honour and hoped he will receive the recognition in future.

Sania, who is only the second tennis player after Leander Paes to be named for the award, said such a recognition motivates a sportsperson to excel him or her for the country.

“We play for the country and if the government gives recognition for our achievement, we feel a sense of pride.

“I thank the Sports Ministry for nominating me for the award. This will encourage and inspire me to do better. It is humbling for for me,” Sania said on the eve of the award function to be held at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here.

“I am not from the Sports Ministry but Mahesh (Bhupathi) is a great player and he has done a lot for Indian tennis. Hopefully, he will also get the award,” she said.

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