Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Aug.4 : World tennis's standalone women's star Serena Willaims of the United States says Indian doubles specialist Sania Mirza has the ability to turn on the magic in the company of any partner.
Serena, the winner of four Olympic gold medals, says Mirza could make it to the podium in these Olympic Games if she finds her touch in the tennis competition that gets underway on Saturday.
Mirza is currently the highest-ranked woman doubles player, having stamped her authority in Grand Slam and other top-notch tournaments.
Mirza's partnership with Martina Hingis of Switzerland is the feature of women's doubles in contemporary tennis, while she is has also formed a formidable recent partnership with Croatian player Ivan Dodig in mixed doubles.
"She's a great doubles player who knows how to win Grand Slam titles. She's had a wonderful career as a singles player too," said Serena, asserting that it was always special to play in the Olympics.
Serena said Mirza would be a formidable challenger, even if she would go into the doubles competition at the Olympics with new partners.
Sania can be with any partner and she will do a wonderful job," said Serena, whose sister and women's doubles partner Venus Williams called the Olympics as a "surreal experience." Mirza will pair up with India's young player Rohan Bopanna in the mixed doubles, where they are very highly rated, and will step into the women's doubles competition alongwith Prarthana Thombare.
Two two Willaims sisters have teamed up to win the women's doubles gold medal thrice, while Serena also goes into the Rio de Janeiro singles competition as the defending champion.
"It's always special to be at the Olympics. That's one of the reasons we fight so hard to try to get back and get a medal for our country," said Serena.
"When I held my first gold medal, it was really a feeling I never expected because so many great athletes," she added.
"I really had an opportunity to truly enjoy and appreciate my gold medal probably more than a lot of my other trophies," Serena said.
Back to defend her singles title, she says: "It's really great that I've had an opportunity to win a gold medal in singles." "Honestly, I think a little bit it takes some pressure off, knowing that I've won a gold medal (in singles)," she said.
Serena was surprised that some athletes in different sport were skipping the Rio de Janeiro competition.
"I never got the impression that people weren't coming for the money. In sport, we are always really appreciative of every opportunity that we get," said Serena..