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India high on Paes, Sania double treat

London: There was a lot to cheer for India on the final day of Wimbledon 2003 on Sunday. Leander Paes clinched his sixth Grand Slam crown ó winning the mixed doubles final with Martina Navratilova. Before that, Sania Mirza became the first Indian girl (even woman, for that matter) to win a Big W title. Sania and Russian partner Alisa Kleybanova came first in girlsí doubles.

Sania and Kleybanova beat Katerina Bohmova of Czech Republic and Michaela Krajicek of The Netherlands 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. It was after a gap of 51 years that an Indian girl was playing in a Grand Slam final, the last one being Rita Dabur who finished runner-up in singles in 1952.

It was sweet revenge for Sania who, with fellow-Indian Sanaa Bhambri, had bowed to the same Czech-Dutch pair in the French Open semi-final.

Paes and Martina then eased past the Israel-Russia pair of Andy Ram and Anastassia Rodionova 6-3, 6-3 in the mixed doubles final. It was the Indianís third Grand Slam mixed doubles title. The earlier ones being the 1999 Wimbledon crown with Lisa Raymond of the US and the Australian Open title with Martina this year. Paes also has three doubles titles with Mahesh Bhupathi ó French Open (1999 and 2001) and Wimbledon (1999).

Martina equalled Billie Jean Kingís record of 20 Wimbledon titles. The ageless champion said: ďI canít think I canít talk. They are all special but the last one was eight years ago and I thought Iíd never play here again. Best thing that happened to me was being dumped by my doubles partners and the same thing happened to Leander and thatís how we got together.Ē

By claiming her 58th Grand Slam title, Martina also broke her own record of becoming the oldest champion at one of the top four major events. Aged 46 years and 261 days, she eclipsed the mark she set when she lifted the Australian Open mixed crown with Paes in January.

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