Early Life of Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal was born on March 17, 1990, in the city of Hisar, Haryana. She did her initial schooling in Campus School CCS HAU in Hisar. The family later shifted to Hyderabad, where she completed her 12th from St. Ann’s College in Mehdipatnam. Saina Nehwal also holds a brown belt in Karate. Seeing her interest in the sport, her parents enrolled her at the Pullela Gopichand Academy where she started her professional training under S. M. Arif.
Career of Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal was initially coached by Dronacharya Award winner S. M. Arif and then by Pullela Gopichand till September 2014. She started her successful career by creating history in 2006, winning the prestigious ‘Asian Satellite Badminton Tournament’ (India Chapter) twice and becoming the 1st player to do so. In May 2006, 16-year-old Saina became the first Indian woman and the youngest player from Asia to win a 4-star tournament – ‘The Philippines Open’. In the same year, she was the runner up at the 2006 BWF World Junior Championships. In 2008, she became the 1st Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships. Saina Nehwal was the 1st Indian woman to reach the quarter finals in badminton at the Olympic Games, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She won the ‘Yonex Chinese Taipei Open’ in 2008 and became the 1st Indian to win a BWF Super Series title.
Saina Nehwal successfully led the Indian Women Team to the quarter finals of the 2010 ‘Uber Cup’. She became the first Indian woman to reach the semi finals of 2010 All-England Super Series. Saina Nehwal won the ‘India Open Grand Prix Gold’ in 2010 and again seeded No. 1 in the ‘Singapore Open Super Series’ 2010. She defended her ‘Indonesia Open Super Series’ title in three tough games against Japanese Sayaka Sato (21-19, 13-21, 21-11) clinching her third Super Series title and third successive title after wins at India Open and Singapore Super Series. Saina Nehwal won the gold medal in Women's Singles badminton at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi. In December 2010, she defeated Wang Shixian (15-21, 21-16, 21-17) in the final of the 2010 Hong Kong Super Series, winning her 4th career Super Series title.
In March 2011, 2nd seed Saina Nehwal beat Ji Hyun Sung of South Korea (21-13, 21-14) to win the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold badminton title. She crashed out of World Championship in 2011. In the same year, Saina Nehwal created history by becoming the 1st Indian singles player to reach the final of BWF Super Series Masters Finals. After cruising her way through the semi-finals of the 2011 BWF Super Series Masters Finals in Liuzhou, China, Saina Nehwal eventually lost the final (21-18, 13-21, 13-21) against the World No. 1 Chinese Wang Yihan, in a contest lasting over an hour.
Later in March 2012, Saina successfully clinched the ‘Swiss Open’ title by defeating World No. 2 Wang Shixian of China (21-19, 21-16). In June, she won her 3rd ‘Indonesia Open’ Super Series title, defeating World No. 3 Li Xuerui of China (13-21, 22-20, 21-19). On August 4, 2012, she won the bronze medal at the London Olympics when China's Wang Xin retired from the match after an injury. In October, she won her 1st ‘Denmark Open Super Series Premier’, defeating Juliane Schenk of Germany in two straight sets. In 2014, Saina Nehwal defeated World Championship bronze medallist P.V. Sindhu (21-14, 21-17) to win the Women's Singles at ‘India Open Grand Prix Gold Tournament’. She also defeated Spain's Carolina Marin (21-18, 21-11) to win Women's Singles at 2014 ‘Australian Super Series’. Saina Nehwal became the 1st Indian woman to win the ‘China Open Super Series Premier’, beating Japan's Akane Yamaguchi 21-12, 22-20 in the final. She won the 2015 ‘India Open Grand Prix Gold’ beating Carolina Marin. In March 2015, she won her maiden women's singles title at India Open BWF Super Series beating Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand. With this, Saina Nehwal secured the World No. 1 ranking when the latest BWF rankings were released in April, becoming the 1st Indian woman to be World No. 1 in badminton. In August 2015, she fought Carolina Marin again in the final of World Badminton Championships held in Jakarta, settling for the silver. Most recently in March 2016, Nehwal crashed out of the semi finals of the ‘Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold’ tournament in Basel, losing to lower placed Wang Yihan in straight games (11-21, 19-21).
Of the total 21 Singles titles, Saina Nehwal has won internationally, 3 include Super Series Premier, 6 include Super Series, 7 for Grand Prix Gold, 1 for Grand Prix and 4 others. In 2017, she got the ‘Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold’ title. Saina Nehwal won gold at 2018 Commonwealth Games in women's singles after defeating P. V. Sindhu after which she became the first Indian to win 2 singles Gold in Commonwealth Games.
Awards and Honours of Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal has been awarded and recognised with the most prestigious sports and civilian honours. Following are the awards and honours of Saina Nehwal:
• Most Promising Player of the Year (2008) award by the Badminton World Federation
• Arjuna Award by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India in 2009
• Padma Shri by Government of India in 2010
• Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India’s highest honour in sports by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in 2009-2010
• Padma Bhushan by Government of India in 2016
For the bronze win at 2012 London Olympics, Saina Nehwal was awarded cash prizes by Haryana, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh state governments, by Badminton Association of India and an Honorary Doctorate Degree by Mangalayatan University. Saina Nehwal is one of the athletes supported by Olympic Gold Quest, a not-for-profit company committed to bridging the gap between the best athletes in India and the best athletes in the world, thus helping Indian athletes to win Olympic Gold medals.
Personal Life of Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal married fellow Badminton player, Parupalli Kashyap in a private ceremony on December 14, 2018.