Indian tennis star on Monday won the Fed Cup Heart Award from the Asia/Oceania zone for her performance on return from maternity break earlier this year.
The 33-year-old made a comeback to Fed Cup after four years and helped India qualify for the Play-offs for the first time in history, with 18-month old son Izhaan present in the stands. Mirza helped India remain unbeaten in doubles with a decisive win over Indonesia that secured second place in the group.
She is also the first Indian to win the award.
“It’s an honour to win the Fed Cup Heart Award as the first Indian,” Mirza, who was also India’s first Heart Award nominee, was quoted as saying on Fed Cup’s official website.
“I dedicate this award to the entire country and to all my fans and thank everyone for voting for me. I hope to bring more laurels to the country in the future.”
Along with the award, she also received a cheque for $2,000 to be donated to a charity and she opted to help with relief during the coronavirus crisis.
“I want to donate the money that I get from this award to the Telangana Chief Minister’s Relief Fund as the world is going through very difficult times with the virus,” she added.
Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova won the Qualifiers award for her win against USA’s Serena Williams with Mexico’s Fernanda Contreras Gomez and Estonian Anett Kontaveit being the other zone winners.
Mirza won the award for Asia/Oceania zone after securing 10,000 plus votes out of the total 16,985 cast for this year’s three regional Group I nominees, reported PTI.
The Fed Cup Heart Award winners were determined via online voting by fans which went on for a week starting from May 1.
Mirza’s vote share of over 60 per cent of the total votes is a testimony to the global popularity of the Indian star at the Fed Cup competition. She made a comeback to Fed Cup earlier in 2020 after four years. After giving birth to her son in October 2018, Mirza returned to the court in January this year and instantly achieved success by clinching the women’s doubles title at Hobart International alongside Nadiia Kichenok.
Former world No 1 in doubles and six-time Grand Slam champion, Mirza beat Indonesia’s 16-year-old Priska Madelyn Nugroho for the award in Asia/Oceania regional category.
(With PTI inputs)