Former Australian and French Open champion Mary Pierce says she was not surprised that India's Sania Mirza developed into a top player after partnering with her in the WTA event in Hyderabad in 2003. Speaking to the Sportstar, Pierce says, "Mahesh (Bhupathi) was organising that tournament and wanted to know whether I would like to play with a local girl.
It was Sania’s first tournament at that level. She was not that well known then. I saw her hitting the strokes well. There were a lot of mistakes. But, I knew that once she started keeping a lot of balls on court, she would be good.
I wasn’t surprised when she developed into a top player." The former World No. 3 will be in India later this month as part of the Roland Garros junior wild card event in Delhi and says there that is no clear-cut answer to why more Indians have not succeeded in tennis at the international stage.
"It is a good question, but there is no answer. Some players have natural gift. Indian tennis has had great tennis champions. Am sure, there will be more in future. Yes, passion for the game, hard work, dedication, sacrifice and very supportive people are all important.
You need good structure, training and sponsors to help you travel for tournaments," Pierce also said that she is looking forward to coming to India and promote the Roland Garros junior wild card event but was not ready to pick out any favourites yet for the French Open, as it was too early in the season now.
"I am very happy to be coming to India. It is one of my favourite countries. I developed my game, playing on clay. You need to have strong legs and patience to play long rallies. Clay teaches you a lot. It is so special to me.
It is great to promote the event. It is too early to assess the chances for Roland Garros. We will see how the girls, so many of them and so good, compete in the clay season, before we take a pick."