Bengaluru: Tennis star Sania Mirza has become the first Indian to win The Fed Cup Heart Award. She has decided to donate the prize money of $2,000 to Telangana chief minister’s relief fund to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Fed Cup Heart Award is an International Tennis Federation (ITF) initiative that was first presented at the final in 2009. It aims to recognise players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to the team during Fed Cup.

Also read: Sania Mirza makes winning return, claims title in Hobart

Online voting for the Fed Cup Heart Awards took place for one week from May 1 and the winners were announced on Monday (May 11). The 33-year-old Sania won the award in Asia/Oceania Zone Group I. Sania received more than 10,000 votes out of the total 16,985 that were cast online.

Also read: Sania raises money to help the needy

“It’s an honour to win the Fed Cup Heart Award as the first Indian,” said Sania, who was also India’s first Heart Award nominee.

“I dedicate this award to the entire country and to all my fans and thank everyone for voting for me. I hope to bring more laurels to the country in the future. I want to donate the money that I get from this award to the Telangana Chief Minister’s Relief Fund as the world is going through very difficult times with the virus,” the Hyderabadi said.

Sania’s return to Fed Cup action for the first time since 2016 saw India book their place in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Play-offs after overcoming South Korea, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan to finish second behind China in Dubai.

With 18-month-old son Izhaan watching from the stands, Mirza went 3-0 in doubles for India, including victory in the decisive doubles over Indonesia that secured second place in the group.

Sania won all three matches she contested at the Asia/Oceania Group I event in Dubai in March, as the Indian team won all three ties they played to progress to a Fed Cup play-off with Latvia.

She had returned to tennis action post motherhood, in January this year. She won Hobart International title on her return, with doubles partner Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine.

The Fed Cup Heart Award 2020 winners

Qualifiers: Anastasija Sevastova (LAT)

Americas Group I: Fernanda Contreras Gomez (MEX)

Asia/Oceania Group I: Sania Mirza (IND)

Europe/Africa Group I: Anett Kontaveit (EST)