Sunitha Rao (born October 27, 1985) is an American former professional tennis player, who represented India in international tournaments. She won eight doubles titles on the ITF Circuit in her career. On July 7, 2008, she reached her best singles ranking of world No. 144.[1] On May 19, 2008, she peaked at No. 108 in the doubles rankings.

Sunitha Rao
Sunitha Rao Albuquerque 2008.jpg
Country (sports) United States (2000–09)
 India (2007–09; Fed Cup and Olympic tournaments only)
ResidenceBradenton, Florida
Born (1985-10-27) October 27, 1985 (age 37)
Jersey City, New Jersey
Height5 ft 7 in (170 cm)
Turned pro2004
PlaysRight-handed (two-handed backhand)
Prize moneyUS$ 238,224
Career record196–188
Career titles0
Highest rankingNo. 144 (July 7, 2008)
Grand Slam singles results
Australian OpenQ3 (2003, 2005)
French OpenQ2 (2005, 2006)
WimbledonQ3 (2003)
US OpenQ3 (2007)
Career record107–105
Career titles8 ITF
Highest rankingNo. 108 (May 19, 2008)
Other doubles tournaments
Olympic Games2R (2008)

Playing for India Fed Cup team, she has a win–loss record of 5–6.[2] Rao also is the fourth female tennis player in history representing India to enter the top-200 world rankings, after Nirupama Sanjeev, Shikha Uberoi, and Sania Mirza.

Personal lifeEdit

Rao was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1985 and was raised by her Indian immigrant parents Manohar and Savithri, who were from Chennai.[3]



Rao played her first WTA Tour match at the 2002 Brasil Open, where she defeated Vanessa Henke in the first round. She was beaten by Anastasia Myskina in the second round.

Rao played at the 2004 Korea Open where she was beaten by Miho Saeki in the first round. Rao participated at the 2005 Internationaux de Strasbourg, but was overpowered by Iveta Benešová in the first round. Then she played at the Sunfeast Open where she beat Neha Uberoi in the first round before falling to Elena Likhovtseva.

She took part at the 2006 Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic, where she lost to Angelique Widjaja in the first round. She also suffered a first-round defeat at the 2006 Sunfeast Open to Nicole Pratt. Rao defeated Sandy Gumulya in the first round of the 2007 Sunfeast Open to advance to the second round where she lost to Anne Keothavong. She then lost in the first round of the 2007 Challenge Bell to Alina Jidkova.


Rao received an entry into the PTT Pattaya Open via a lucky loser spot. She beat Junri Namigata before losing to Ekaterina Bychkova. Then, at the Copa Colsanitas, she lost to Edina Gallovits in the first round.

Rao received the best result of her WTA career at the 2008 DFS Classic in Birmingham. She beat Petra Kvitová (who would be the future world No. 2 and Wimbledon titlist) in the first round and Naomi Cavaday in the second before falling to Alona Bondarenko in the third round.

She partnered with Sania Mirza, representing India in the women's doubles event at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.[4][5] They got a walkover in round one, but lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina of Russia in round two.

Rao announced retirement from tennis in 2009.

ITF finalsEdit

Singles (0–7)Edit

$100,000 tournaments
$75,000 tournaments
$50,000 tournaments
$25,000 tournaments
$15,000 tournaments
$10,000 tournaments
Outcome No. Date Location Surface Opponent Score
Runner-up 1. February 24, 2002 Mumbai, India Hard   Peng Shuai 3–6, 6–7(3–7)
Runner-up 2. November 10, 2002 Mexico City Hard   Olga Vymetálková 6–7(2–7), 3–6
Runner-up 3. October 17, 2004 Mackay, Australia Hard   Evie Dominikovic 5–7, 3–6
Runner-up 4. October 24, 2004 Rockhampton, Australia Hard   Evie Dominikovic 0–6, 0–2 ret.
Runner-up 5. July 8, 2007 Southlake, United States Hard   Alexa Glatch 2–6, 5–7
Runner-up 6. October 14, 2007 San Francisco, United States Hard   Ashley Harkleroad 1–6, 2–6
Runner-up 7. March 22, 2008 Noida, India Hard   Anastasija Sevastova 2–6, 1–6

Doubles (8–7)Edit

Outcome No. Date Location Surface Partner Opponents Score
Runner-up 1. January 18, 2004 Tampa, United States Hard   Milangela Morales   Alisa Kleybanova
  Mayumi Yamamoto
2–6, 4–6
Runner-up 2. May 16, 2004 Charlottesville, United States Clay   Vilmarie Castellvi   Erica Krauth
  Jessica Lehnhoff
0–6, 1–6
Winner 1. November 14, 2004 Port Pirie, Australia Hard   Casey Dellacqua   Daniella Dominikovic
  Evie Dominikovic
4–6, 6–3, 7–6(8–6)
Winner 2. November 13, 2005 Port Pirie, Australia Hard   Gréta Arn   Monique Adamczak
  Christina Horiatopoulos
6–4, 3–6, 6–2
Winner 3. November 27, 2005 Mount Gambier, Australia Hard   Ryoko Fuda   Gréta Arn
  Anastasia Rodionova
6–1, ret.
Winner 4. May 7, 2006 Charlottesville, United States Clay   Marie-Ève Pelletier   Maria Fernanda Alves
  Lilia Osterloh
6–7(6–8), 6–2, 6–3
Runner-up 3. July 23, 2006 Hammond, United States Hard   Ryōko Fuda   Christina Fusano
  Raquel Kops-Jones
6–7(3–7), 6–4, 1–6
Runner-up 4. October 8, 2006 Traralgon, Australia Hard   Casey Dellacqua   Christina Horiatopoulos
  Raquel Kops-Jones
2–6, 6–7(5–7)
Winner 5. October 15, 2006 Melbourne, Australia Hard   Casey Dellacqua   Daniella Dominikovic
  Evie Dominikovic
6–3, 6–2
Runner-up 5. January 20, 2007 Fort Walton Beach, United States Hard   Marie-Ève Pelletier   Angelika Bachmann
  Tetiana Luzhanska
7–5, 6–7(7–9), 6–7(4–7)
Winner 6. June 2, 2007 Carson, United States Hard   Kim Grant   Angela Haynes
  Lindsay Lee-Waters
6–4, 6–4
Winner 7. June 17, 2007 Allentown, United States Hard   Ryōko Fuda   Angela Haynes
  Lindsay Lee-Waters
6–7(3–7), 6–4, 6–1
Runner-up 6. March 14, 2008 New Delhi, India Hard   Aurélie Védy   Ji Chunmei
  Sun Shengnan
6–2, 2–6, [4–10]
Winner 8. May 11, 2008 Zagreb, Croatia Clay   Melinda Czink   Stéphanie Foretz
  Jelena Kostanić Tošić
6–4, 6–2
Runner-up 7. October 5, 2008 Troy, United States Hard   Angela Haynes   Raquel Kops-Jones
  Abigail Spears
2–6, 0–6


  1. ^ Das, Rajorshi (October 7, 2021). "The disappearing players of Indian Women's Tennis". Sportskeeda.
  2. ^ Sunitha Rao at the Billie Jean King Cup
  3. ^ Sawai, Akshay (March 6, 2002). "Sunitha Rao: Indian promise from US". The Times of India.
  4. ^ "India names 57-member squad for Beijing Olympics". IBNLive. July 25, 2008. Archived from the original on July 26, 2008. Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  5. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Sunitha Rao". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on December 3, 2016.

External linksEdit