Tennis star Sania Mirza has been appointed as the mentor of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL), which is scheduled to be played from March 4 to 26, in Mumbai. On Wednesday (February 15), RCB announced the same on their official Twitter handle.
The 36-year-old is the first Indian woman to win a major title in tennis and is expected to join the RCB squad after the ATP Dubai Open, which is likely to be her last professional tournament. She announced her retirement from professional tennis ahead of this year’s Australian Open. She reached the mixed doubles final with compatriot Rohan Bopanna where they were defeated by Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos.
Sania said she was a little surprised after being asked for the role but is excited. “I was a little surprised [at being offered a mentorship role], but I was really excited,” Mirza told RCB TV. “I want to make young girls believe sport can be one of the first career choices for them.”
Mirza is enthusiastic about working with young talents and helping them to deal with pressure. “I feel I can [help] bring in the mental steadiness, the mental belief, I can talk of the experiences I’ve had over 20 years of playing. Being the only [Indian] woman doing it for so many years has been lonely, but the pressure has been high, that kind of stuff is something I can truly help with.”
RCB has also brought in RX Murali as a power-hitting coach, former Tamil Nadu offspinner Malolan Rangarajan as an assistant coach, and former India batter VR Vanitha will be the fielding coach. They have signed Ben Sawyer as the head coach. Sawyer was with the Women’s World Cup-winning side Australia the last year as an assistant coach. He is also the head coach of the New Zealand women’s team as well as of the Birmingham Phoenix women’s team in The Hundred.
RCB, which is known for their star-studded players in Men’s Indian Premier League (IPL), have roped in star women players in their squad too in the WPL auction, which took place on February 13. They have the likes of Smriti Mandhana, Ellyse Perry, Sophie Devine, Megan Schutt, Dane van Niekerk, Richa Ghosh, and Renuka Singh among other star names. Mandhana was the most expensive purchase when RCB signed her for INR 3.4 crore.
RCB will open their campaign against Delhi Capitals at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on March 5.
Gouri Das is a cricket writer at FirstSportz. Despite always being a sporty kid, she disliked being inactive in one place for a long time to watch a match. But after the Ind vs Pak match of the 2016 Asia Cup, she rather got glued to the TV screen. That year she watched the major cricket tournaments, WWE matches, and the Olympics (especially Usain Bolt's races). After reading about the big names in tennis and becoming an ardent follower, she dreams of visiting Wimbledon one day.
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