Mumbai: After reclaiming the top spot in badminton singles rankings, Saina Nehwal is doubly delighted at fellow Hyderabadi tennis ace Sania Mirza's rise to the summit of the women's doubles rankings and says the twin achievements reflect the rise of women power in the domain of Indian sports.
"Sania Mirza is a big name in the world of tennis, she is the numero uno in her game. I wish her all the best in her future endeavours," Saina told IANS in an e-mail interview on Sunday.
"Women in sports have come up in a big way in recent past and I congratulate all of them, including Mary Kom, Krishna Poonia, Geeta Phogat, Babita Kumari, Heena Sidhu and Sania Mirza," she said.
"It is good that women power is visible in sports," she said, crediting the central government's sports policies for the success stories.
Sania was elevated to the No.1 spot in the women's doubles rankings, according to the latest Women's Tennis Association (WTA) list released on April 13.
Saina became the first Indian women to be crowned World No.1 on March 29 after her Indian Open Grand Prix triumph. But she dropped to the second place, overtaken by China's Li Xuerui, following her semi-finals exit in the Malaysia Open Superseries.
But she regained the top slot after Li pulled out of Singapore Open Superseries.
Sania, on the other hand, leapfrogged to the top spot after winning her third consecutive Women's Tennis Association (WTA) title - the Family Circle Cup - with new partner Martina Hingis.
"I am proud to be World No.1 in badminton. It is really tough to reach the pinnacle in badminton... it took me five years to realise my dream as I became World No.2 in 2010," the right-handed shuttler said.
The 25-year-old Saina is the only non-Chinese to get the top billing since 2010 when Denmark's Tine Baun ruled the rankings. The 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist dedicated her recent feat to her parents, coaches and well wishers.
When asked what makes a Chinese player so tough to beat, she said: "Maybe these players are trained on best infrastructure they have created for each sport and the availability of best coaches compared to India and other countries where hardly a few best coaches are available."
"The number of players (in China) is also very high compared to us where there is a shortage of players.
"Luckily I started my career on best infrastructure created in India at Gopi's (Pullela Gopichand) Academy at Hyderabad in 2004 and continued till 2014 during which I won national championships, Junior World Cup and some of Super Series and Gold Grand Prix tournaments," she added.
Saina has clinched gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and bronze in the 2006 edition, besides picking up a bronze at the Incheon Asian Games last year.
In 2014, she became the first Indian woman to win the China Open Super Series Premier beating Japan's Akane Yamaguchi in the final.
In another first for Indian women shuttlers, Saina reached the All England Open Badminton final last month, but lost to Spain's Carolina Marin recently.
In 2014, Saina shifted to Prakash Padukone's academy in Bangalore. Since then she has been under the tutelage of Vimal Kumar. Former men's No.1 player Padukone also gave her valuable tips.
Saina credited ex-coach Gopichand and incumbent Vimal Kumar for her success.
"Both of them are the best of badminton coaches in India. With Gopi sir, I won a number tournaments and now with Vimal sir my progress is visible in the last seven months," she said.
With expectations climbing high with each day, Saina said her ultimate aim is the Rio Olympics next year.
"I, as a badminton player, will give my 100 percent for my sport. I have to show better results in the 2015 World Cup. Many Superseries are lined up this year and ultimately our goal is Rio Olympics," the star said.