HYDERABAD: Tennis queen Sania Mirza is all set to add one more priceless possession to the impressive collection of laurels if the early hints are any indication. She can well become one of the youngest-ever recipients of the prestigious Padmasri award at the age of 18, but definitely the youngest from Andhra Pradesh, when the Presidential declaration is made soon.
The office of the President has asked the State Government to furnish it with the complete list of her achievements before taking a final decision. This is generally treated as a normal procedure but importantly if only the athlete's name is among the short-listed. Officially, the announcement is made before the Republic Day celebrations.
Winner all the way
Apparently, what made Sania, who lost in the second round of the ongoing Australian Open, catch the imagination of one and all is the meteoric rise in the world rankings from No. 197 to No. 32 in the space of 12 months. Stunning achievement under any circumstances, particularly by an Indian.
Winner of the Hyderabad WTA Open last February and the first Indian woman to enter the fourth round of the US Open event after her third round appearance in the Australian Open in 2005, Sania has also just completed a two-week special training session with the great Australian coach Tony Roche to work more on improving her serve.
For the record, last few Padmasri awardees from the State include Sydney Olympics bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari, badminton star Pullela Gopi Chand, triple Olympian and hockey star N. Mukesh Kumar.