Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza has been included in the government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) on Wednesday, four years after being excluded from the program.
Sania was selected to TOPS during the 56th meet of the Mission Olympic Cell in Delhi.
The 34-year-old multiple Grand Slam winner dropped out of the program due to an injury that led to her being lay-off when she was last selected in 2017.
“Yes, Sania has been selected on the recent TOPS list,” a source of the Sports Authority of India told PTI.
Sania had already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics based on her protected ranking before taking a break from the game due to her pregnancy.
Sania is currently ranked 157th in the world, but according to WTA rules, when a player leaves the game for more than six months due to injury or pregnancy, they can apply for a “special rating” (also sometimes known as “protected rating”).
The players’ special ranking is their world ranking since the last tournament they played in, and in Sania’s case, it was the China Open in October 2017. At that time, she was ranked 9th in the world.
According to this WTA rule, Sania is currently ranked 9th in the special rankings and has already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
The WTA introduced special rankings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sania has been inactive for two years due to pregnancy and only returned to court last year after giving birth to her son at the season opener at the Hobart International WTA event.
She partnered with Ukrainian Nadiia Kichenok to claim the women’s doubles title.