Champion shuttler Saina Nehwal, fresh from her hat-trick of wins in the international circuit, received a grand welcome when she arrived in Hyderabad on Tuesday.

The students of AP Sports School extended her a warm welcome by lining up on either side of the road with holding aloft placards hailing Saina's achievement. Coinciding with her arrival, the other sporting icon from the city, Sania Mirza sent her a congratulatory message from London.

The message from the tennis star read: “It is a great achievement to break into the top five in the world. Saina's success has given a shot in-the-arm for badminton in our country and is a source of inspiration for youngsters taking up the game.” “It is really nice of her (Sania) to send this message. I thank her for this,” exclaimed Saina on reading the message.

The shuttler was in for a surprise when she found her elder sister Chandranshu, who is currently pursuing her MBA, joining her in celebrations. “I am really excited to be here. Yes, I always stayed away till now from these things. But today, I thought it is something special and I flew down to the city to be with Saina,” Chandranshu remarked. “Honestly, I did not expect Saina to win three titles in-a-row. But, it is such a nice feeling to see all this kind of welcome,” Chandranshu remarked.

As Saina trooped into the Gopichand Academy (Gachibowli) which helped her a lot to move faster to the pedestal of glory, there was more to cheer when APBA president K. Durga Prasad presented a cheque of Rs. 1 lakh as a token of gesture for “making the country proud”.

There was a mad rush at the Academy to have a glimpse of the champion or take a snap - a reminder of the iconic status Saina has achieved so quickly in the world of sport.