Sania Mirza has become the first Indian to climb to the top of the WTA doubles ranking after she teamed up with Swiss great Martina Hingis to claim the Family Circle Cup title.
The 28-year-old won her third successive doubles title with Hingis, following triumphs in Indian Wells and Miami, to achieve the top ranking milestone.
|I’m very fortunate to have the career that I’ve had over the last 12 years.
If you are number five in the world, you obviously want to try to be number one. You’re that close. You feel like you belong there and you should be there.
It’ll be a pity if you get that close and don’t really get to number one.
That’s a dream for every tennis player when he or she picks up a tennis racket as a six-year-old.
Sania Mirza's exclusive interview with Al Jazeera in March 2015
"When you start off as a child playing tennis, you dream of being number one in the world," Mirza said in a statement.
"It's a dream for every person; very few get there. I feel extremely honoured to be No.1, it's something that I've worked for all my life. I hope this makes girls in India believe that anything is possible; we can achieve anything we want if we put our mind and body to it."
Mirza had once been tipped for success as a singles player after she became the first Indian to win a WTA singles title in 2005. She followed up her success in her hometown of Hyderabad by reaching the fourth round of the US Open in 2005 and two years later broke into the top 30.
But from then on her singles career went into freefall, with injuries taking a toll.
On the doubles court, however, her career prospered as she became the first Indian woman to claim a grand slam title when she partnered Mahesh Bhupathi to the 2009 Australian Open mixed doubles crown.
When the new WTA rankings are released on Monday, Mirza's run of winning 14 successive doubles matches with Hingis will see her leapfrog Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci at the top of the standings.
Only three other Asian women have achieved the top WTA doubles ranking: Japan's Ai Sugiyama, China's Peng Shuai and Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei.
Leander Paes and Bhupathi are the only other Indians to achieve number one rankings in tennis when they dominated men's doubles in the late 1990s.
Also read: India's top tennis star has unfinished business
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies