From cow dung to No. 1 for India’s Mirza

Sania Mirza grew up in India playing tennis on courts made of cow dung. On Sunday, she teamed with tennis great Martina Hingis to win the pair’s third straight WTA doubles title. As a bonus, the 28-year-old Mirza also ascended to world No. 1 in WTA doubles rankings.

No wonder her upcoming autobiography has the working title “Against All Odds.”

“We used to make and practice on courts — I’m sorry — made out of cow (dung), said Mirza, who was born in Mumbai. “So to come from there and pick up a tennis racket and have the guts to say, OK, I am going to go out and play at the highest level in the world against all the odds.”

Mirza, who is married to Pakistani cricket player Shoaib Malik, has been a controversial figure amid the religious and political forces that roil her home country. But she hopes her tennis success can make an impact in India.

“I always say anything is possible,” she said. “You have to believe that as a woman and as a girl you are not a weakness; you’re a strength … If you put your mind to it, you put hard work in, anything is possible, no matter where you’re from.

“Even if that means you’ve grown up playing on courts made of cow dung.”

Martina Hingis’ first tennis career was one of the great ones — she was No. 1 in the world, won 43 WTA singles titles and five Grand Slams and earned more than $20 million.

But the 34-year-old from Switzerland is having a pretty cool second act, as well.

“It’s kind of the third phase already,” Hingis joked after pairing with Mirza to win a third straight WTA doubles title. “I really enjoy the moment. What happens now, every victory, every match is a bonus.

“The older you get, the more you can also enjoy and lean back.”

Hingis retired from tennis in 2007 after coming back from torn ligaments in her ankle, and returned to play doubles exclusively in 2013.

But it seems her singles career might not be over. There’s talk that Hingis could play singles for the Swiss Fed Cup team against Poland in an upcoming tie.

“I had that question pop up, definitely,” Hingis said. “But we’ll see once we get there. We’ll make that decision when I’m there.”

Sunday’s crowd of 8,023 boosted Family Circle Cup attendance to 86,176 for the week, just below last year’s 87,997. The Family Circle Cup has averaged 82,786 fans during its 15 years on Daniel Island, with a high of 95,767 in 2010.