Principal Correspondent

HYDERABAD: Sania Mirza is all set to script another piece of history. She will be the first Indian woman tennis player ever to take part in the singles of the Olympic Games when she participates at Beijing. “Playing in Olympics has been one of my dreams and I am delighted at being so close to realising that,” she said in a chat with The Hindu before departing for Beijing on Wednesday evening.

“Every athlete dreams of this experience for the Olympics presents a larger than life image. I have heard of so much about just being there at the Games venues and the Olympic village,” said Sania.

“It is an honour and a privilege to realise that I happen to be the first Indian woman player to take part in the singles competition in an Olympics,” she said. “The Games connect you to great athletes from across the world. I have had some memorable experiences in the two Asian Games and am conscious of what to expect in Beijing,” added Sania.

No guesses

About her chances she said it would be hazardous to make a guess. “Name any top tennis player in the world, and she will be there in Beijing. It is a virtual who’s who in women’s tennis that will be participating. So, I don’t want to make any comment on my prospects,” said the 21-year-old.

“This is not the time to ponder about my drop in ranking. I would like to take it (the Games) match by match, as I have no other option. But, one thing is for sure — that I will try my best,” said Sania. “The fact that the entire country is backing you should make one put in that extra effort. It is every athlete’s goal to win an Olympic medal.”

Sania admitted that her preparation could have been better. “I would have liked to avoid the surgery on my wrist. But these things are not in my control,” she remarked.

Naseema Mirza, Sania’s mother, named as manager of the Indian women’s tennis contingent in Beijing, said her feelings are no different.

“I will be there not just as Sania’s mother. Remember I have been manager in the Federation Cup, Afro-Asian Games and the Doha Asian Games too where India was pretty successful in terms of medals. So I know what my role is,” she said. “It will be a memorable occasion not just for tennis players and officials but for the entire country, when Sania leads the women’s challenge in the Olympics.”

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