Tennis player Ankita Raina on Sunday became the fifth Indian to enter the main draw of a Grand Slam. She also became the third Indian to compete in the women’s doubles of a tennis major, reports PTI. Before her, only Sania Mirza and Nirupama Vaidyanathan have competed in the Grand Slam main draw from the Indian side.

The first Grand Slam of 2021 begins in Melbourne, Australia on Monday.

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The 28-year-old, who played a key role in Indian Fed Cup team’s tremendous progress, told PTI that although singles hold a different significance, making in the doubles too is exceptional.

“It’s the first main draw of a Grand Slam, so singles or doubles, I will take it. It’s special. Years of hard work, toil and now I am there. Not only my hard work but blessings and support of countless people have brought me here, I can’t forget that,” Raina said.

“I know it’s doubles but India’s name will be there. These are the moments that spark something among people. Maybe a few will start dreaming that it’s possible,” she added.

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Raina, who had a long-term dream of getting confirmed for the Grand Slam main draw, said she expects to play the singles next time. “After years of hard work, it is starting with doubles but singles will happen,” she said.

Raina added that she was disappointed for not finding her name in the draw initially, however, her coach called her to say that she had made it.

Raina had signed up with Romanian southpaw Mihaela, who was a top-50 singles player before injury pegged her back, on Friday.

They will play against Australian wild card pair of Olivia Gadecki and Belinda Woolcock.

Now India will have four Indians playing in this year’s first Grand Slam.

Sumit Nagal will compete in the men’s singles while Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will challenge in the men’s doubles with their respective partners.