LONDON - Sania Mirza first picked up a tennis racket aged six but if she had been a boy the Indian would probably have reached for a cricket bat instead. "I always said maybe if I was a guy I would play cricket," Mirza told Reuters after a 6-2 2-6 6-2 first-round victory over Anna-Lena Groenefeld at Wimbledon on Monday. "Cricket is like a religion in the country. Every second person plays cricket no matter what. If any boy is born, he is going to pick up a cricket bat," she added. But Mirza, 22, took up tennis instead and is thrilled to be playing again after eight months off last year with a wrist injury even if she is still some way from her highest ranking. "I was top 30 in the world, even today I am top 100 and it has been like that for four or five years," said the Indian, who is currently a lowly 85th in the world. The picture is even bleaker for India in the men's game. Their best male player, Somdev Devvarman, 24, is ranked 129th and lost in the first round of Wimbledon qualifiers. Australian Open boys champion Yuki Bhambri, a future prospect, is currently seeking to build senior rankings in low-key events back home. GLORY DAYS In their glory days, India reached three Davis Cup finals while Ramanathan Krishnan dazzled with his touch game and inspired a new generation led by Vijay Amritraj. No Indian man has cracked the top 100 since Leander Paes, who reached a career high 73 in 1998 and became part of a world-class doubles partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi. It will always be a battle for tennis to compete with the popularity of cricket in India but Mirza is doing her best to keep the sport in the headlines after her injury. "I couldn't hold a fork and could not eat with my hand and never knew if I was ever going to play again," said Mirza, who has worked hard to recover her fitness. That determination has been with her since childhood. "I used to swim and I used to pass the tennis court every day with my mum and said I wanted to play tennis. I was six," she said. "We spoke to the coach and he said, 'No, no, you are really small. We can't put you in. The racket is bigger than you'. I remember that meeting with him." But from there Mirza began her gradual ascent and when she was eight beat a 16-year-old in a state tournament. "I won that match and she was crying her eyes out," said the Indian who has never lost her single-minded ambition to succeed. (Reuters).