Ankita Raina on Sunday became only the third Indian woman tennis player to secure a place in the main draw of a Grand Slam as she made the cut for the women’s doubles event of the Australian Open. The year’s first Grand Slam starts here on Monday.
After missing out on the women’s singles main draw, she still had a chance to qualify as a ‘lucky loser’ till the completion of the first round, but the 28-year-old realised a long-time dream when she signed up with Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnecu and earned a direct entry. Only Sania Mirza and Nirupama Vaidyanathan have competed in the Grand Slam main draws for India before.
Ankita is only the second Indian after Sania, a six-time Grand Slam champion, to compete in the women’s doubles of a tennis major. Nirupama was the first to crack a Grand Slam main draw, back in 1998 at Australian Open. The braveheart, who played a key role in Indian Fed Cup team’s tremendous progress, said although singles hold a different significance, making the doubles too is special.
“It’s first main draw of a Grand Slam, so singles or doubles, I will take it. It’s special. Years of hard work, toil and now I am there. Not only my hard work but blessings and support of countless people have brought me here, I can’t forget that," Ankita told.