The Indians who Grand Slammed!

Tennis is believed to have originated in the country in and around the 1880s, when the courts were restricted to the British elites. Later on there came the championships like the Punjab Lawn Tennis Championship in Lahore (Now in Pakistan), the Bengal Lawn tennis Championship in Calcutta and the All India Tennis Association Championships. The British dominated these championships in the early years and the first Indian to win a championship in an Indian Tournament was Mohammed Saleem, who won the Punjab Lawn Tennis Championship in 1915. The All India Lawn Tennis Association (AILTA), stationed in Lahore was formed in 1920. That was about the history of Tennis in the country.

Even though the nation’s favorite sport is cricket, which incidentally was also contributed by the British rulers, Tennis has also managed to find a place in its own corners in the hearts of millions of Indians; thanks to the legends who made a mark in the history of Indian Tennis. Tennis, predominantly an individual’s game than being a team game, even though doubles matches are popular as well, provides the player with the credit of winning the tournament ‘single handedly’; so is the pace in which the player shots to fame.

It was during 1980s when the AILTA renamed itself to All India Tennis Association (AITA) in New Delhi, and a decade later, Tennis in India gathered some momentum with the association growing financially sound  and as an evidence of which, there stands high the  National Stadium in Delhi with a seating capacity of around 5000!

Vijay and Anand Amritraj
The Amritraj Brothers were arguably the first to create history in Grand slams; Vijay and Anand became the first Indians to reach the Wimbledon men’s doubles semifinal in 1976. Vijay Amritraj earlier accredited himself with quite a bit of success when he managed to reach till the quarterfinals of 1973 and 1974 Wimbledon Championships respectively. He again shot to fame by repeating the same in 1981. In 1984 Vijay created history by beating the legend, John McEnroe.

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi
Then it was the turn of another prodigy who lifted Indian Tennis to much greater heights- Leander Paes. With 6 doubles, 6 mixed doubles and numerous grand slam finals appearances, Leander is undoubtedly the invaluable contributor for creating a much needed appreciation for the game in the country. The Mahesh Bhupathi- Leander Paes duo is considered to be one of the best doubles team in the Grand Slams till date. Leander Paes is also a proud owner of rare distinctions like being the winner of Mens Doubles and Mixed Doubles Titles in the same Grand Slam (Wimbledon 1999), also, he is the only Indian to have won Grand Slams in three different decades and the second to achieve the same after Rod Leaver.

Sania Mirza
And now, about the better half of Indian Tennis, Sania Mirza, who launched her career in 2003 was the first Indian woman to be seeded in a Grand Slam. Undoubtedly,  she is the highest ever ranked female player from India, with a highest rank of 27 in singles and 18 in doubles. Even though she has not accomplished any major Grand Slam titles, she did give a hard time for the biggies like Venus Williams in 2007 Australian open and María José Martínez Sánchez in 2008 Wimbledon Championships. It is not just for the accomplishments in the court which Sania is to be praised; she has definitely created a fan following by becoming a youth icon. Thanks to the modern day legends of Indian Tennis that many young talents are getting inspired and seeking out avenues to train themselves with the techniques for the sport. Hope Indian Tennis has many more Grand Slammers in the line for the future! 

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