`Playing at home's different; it's fun'

Sports Reporter

Bangalore: Two years ago, Sania Mirza's maiden WTA title in Hyderabad saw little girls reaching for tennis rackets bigger than themselves, dreaming similar dreams. Her impact on Indian women's tennis has been tremendous.

Speaking exclusively to The Hindu on Saturday, Sania dwelt on Indian tennis, playing at home, and other issues.

"I don't exactly know who is going to be the next top-100 or top-50 player from India, but we are going to see a lot more in the years to come. A few years ago when I was playing under-10 and under-12 tennis, we had draws of fours and eights. Now there are hundreds of girls, and it's just a question of getting the right opportunities," she said.

The 20-year-old said she was pleased that India hosts two WTA events, with the Sony Ericsson International being one of them. "Events like these in India are a boost for tennis in India," she said.

The Asian Games silver medallist agreed that her performance in Doha was the turning point for her, in the sense that she started winning more after the event.

"I think I played great there, and I'm very happy about it. Beating the world No. 22 then gave me a lot of confidence," she said.

Playing at home can be tough, but it can be good too. "It's different, but it's fun. There is a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations when anyone plays at home and in front of thousands. But I have to deal with a billion," she laughed.

Does she have any goals for this season? "At this point, no."

The world No. 46 is in no hurry to appoint a full-time travelling coach. "I'm not doing too bad now without one. I might get one, but I'm not desperately searching for one," she said.

On the equal prize money issue, she said, "it's not like we're going bankrupt or dying because we're getting less, but we deserve equal prize money because we're all working equally hard. It's a question of equal rights," she said.