Sania Mirza, currently ranked world number one in women's doubles, on 11 August 2015 became only the second tennis player to be recommended for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.
The first tennis player to be named for the top award was Leander Paes. He was bestowed the honour way back in 1996 after his bronze medal in the Atlanta Olympics.
Sports Minister Sarbanada Sonowal on 1 August 2015 recommended Sania's name for the highest honour that is given for achievement in sports. But, her name for the award was finally approved by the Sports Ministry-constituted awards committee headed by Justice VK Bali, the retired Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court.
The committee included eminent athletes such as Dola Banerjee, MM Somayya and Bhogeshwar Baruah and sports journalists apart from top officials of the Sports Ministry.
Sania won her career's first ever women's doubles Grand Slam title with Swiss partner Martina Hingis in June 2015. Earlier, Mirza has been conferred with other coveted awards like
• The Arjuna award in 2004
• The Padma Shri, the country's fourth highest civillian honour, in 2006
Besides, the committee has recommended 17 other names for the Arjuna Award. The list of sportspersons recommended for Arjuna awards are Rohit Sharma (cricket), K Srikanth (badminton), Swarn Singh Virk (rowing), PR Sreejesh (hockey), Dipa Karmakar (gymnastics), Jitu Rai (shooting), Santhoi Devi (wushu), Sandeep Kumar (archery), Mandeep Jangra (boxing), Babita (wrestling), Bajrang (wrestling), Satish Sivalingam (weightlifting), Sharath Gaekwad (para-sailing), M R Poovamma (athletics), Manjeet Chhillar (kabaddi), Abhilasha Mhatre (kabaddi), Anup Kumar Yama (rollerskating).
The awards are to be given away by the President Pranab Mukherjee on 29 August 2015, the National Sports Day.
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Who: Sania Mirza
When: 11 August 2015