Sania Mirza at the Fed Cup by BNP Paribus on 6th March, 2020. Photo Clint Egbert/Gulf News
Sania Mirza egging on her teammates during India's Fed Cup campaign in Dubai in early March. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: India’s tennis ace Sania Mirza continued to blaze a trail for women’s sport in the sub-continent after the Hyderabadi became the first Indian to win the Fed Cup Heart Award late on Monday.

Mirza, who is in her native Hyderabad with 18-month-old son Izhaan, said that she would be backing the Telangana state in their fight against the current coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” Mirza was quoted in the official ITF website.

“It’s an honour to win the Fed Cup Heart Award as the first Indian,” she said. “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,” the 33-year-old added.

Mirza made a comeback to Fed Cup action for the first time since 2016 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium and helped India qualify for the play-offs for the first time in history on March 7.

Earlier this month, Mirza joined teens Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada and Priska Madelyn Nugroho of Indonesia along with a few other tennis players as nominees for February’s Fed Cup Heart Award.

Now in its 11th year, the Fed Cup Heart Award that recognises players’ commitment and exceptional courage on court during the Fed Cup, Mirza outvoted the rest of the nominees while winning more than 60 per cent of the votes.

Mirza was declared winner for the Asia/Oceania zone after securing a whopping 10,000 plus votes out of the total 16,985 cast for this year’s three regional Group I nominees.

The main award was picked up by Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova for her stunning first-ever win over American legend and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, during their Fed Cup qualifiers, in February.

Sevastova, who was also nominated for the award in 2019, is one of four winners chosen by a public vote, alongside Mirza, Mexico’s Fernanda Contreras Gomez and Estonia’s, Anett Kontaveit.

The winners from Americas Zone Group I, Asia/Oceania Zone Group I and Europe/Africa Zone Group I will each receive a cheque for $2,000 (Dhs 7,300) to be donated to a charity of their choice while Sevastova will receive a cheque for $3,000.

The Fed Cup Heart Award winners were determined via online voting by fans which went on for a week from May 1. The Indian’s vote share of over 60 per cent of the total cast is testimony to the global popularity of the star in Fed Cup competition.