Back where it all began a year ago, Sania Mirza appeared confident of defending the Wimbledon title, she won with Martina Hingis, over the course of July. The World No.1 looked back at the glorious year the pair had in 2015 and talked about how the grass surface is the toughest challenge of the lot.
Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis joined hands in March 2015 embarking on the most successful doubles partnership in recent times. After losing out in the French Open, they wrested the Wimbledon and US Open before winning the Australian Open in early 2016. On the way, they came within striking distance of the record for the second-longest winning streak of 44 matches in women's doubles held by Jana Novotna.
Speaking just ahead of the Wimbledon about the glorious year, Sania Mirza said, "A lot has happened this past year. I've been No.1 for over a year and we're back to where we won our first Grand Slam title as a team," she said of her partnership with Swiss Martina Hingis. "No matter how many more Slams I win, nothing is going to top the 2015 triumph. Not just because it was my first (women's doubles), but the way we won it and then it set us up for the streak that followed our win at the US Open," in an exclusive to ToI.
A repeat of 2015 was on the cards for the pair as they were expected to complete a career slam with the French Open, but they fell to the minnow Russian pair of Daria Kasatkina and Alexandra Panova in the third round of the French Open last month.
However, Sania appears to have shed the disappointment of the French Open. "I feel good, prepared," said Sania.
The 29-year-old also talked about the importance of pre-tournament preparation for her. Sania said, "The reason I played the two tournaments leading up to Wimbledon -Birmingham and Eastbourne - was to find my rhythm. I'm a rhythm player and I need to practice before I play on grass. It's not about winning or even how many matches you play, it's about getting that practice in and you know mentally preparing yourself for this whole start-stop affair that is the feature of playing on grass," reported ToI.
Speaking about the difficulty of playing on the grass surface of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Sania said, "You may have played on grass for 20 years, but each time the season begins, you're starting fresh, finding your step again.
"It's the most physically demanding of surfaces, in clay and even on hard courts you can get away at times without using your feet too much, managing to steer it with your hands. But on grass you just have to get down to play the ball," reported ToI.
Sania also carefully set the expectations for the pair's Wimbledon journey despite holding the title. "I think the first few rounds are crucial, it's important that we play ourselves into the tournament,” she said.