In a recent interview, former doubles World No. 1 Sania Mirza confirmed her plans to retire at the WTA 1000 event in Dubai next month. Mirza had initially planned to hang up her racquet after completing the 2022 season but after injury problems sidelined her in the second half of the year, she decided to delay the decision.
The 36-year-old will be playing in women’s doubles at the Australian Open this month alongside Kazakhstan’s Anna Danilina, which will be her final appearance at a Grand Slam event after she missed the US Open last year due to an elbow injury.
Other fitness issues have also plagued her in the recent past – including a persistent calf problem – but she is adamant to be able to say goodbye to the game on a match court. “Honestly, the person that I am, I like to do things on my own terms. So I don’t want to be forced out by injury. So I’ve been training,” she told wtatennis.com.
Her father, Imran, had told this newspaper last year, after her final appearance at Wimbledon where she narrowly missed out on the mixed doubles final, that bowing out at the WTA Finals – competing with the world’s best – was a fitting way to end her career. Injuries, however, derailed that plan.
Mirza was one of the shining lights of Indian tennis in a generation that did not see much success outside of the doubles circuit. Before going on to win six Grand Slams and becoming a World No. 1 doubles player, she had a remarkable singles career too, reaching a career-high ranking of World No. 27. She remains the last Indian to reach the second week of a Major, making it to the fourth round of the 2005 US Open.
At 36, having sustained several serious injury problems, Mirza’s priorities have changed. “I really don’t have the capacity in my mind to emotionally push that much anymore. I turned pro in 2003,” she was quoted as saying by the WTA. “Priorities change, and now my priority is not to push my body to the limit every single day.”
Post-retirement, Mirza plans to focus on her academies in Dubai, the city of her residence for more than a decade, in addition to the one she started in Hyderabad. “For me it’s important to share my experience in the places that I live in, that’s why I have one in Hyderabad and one in Dubai,” she said.
Her last professional event, the Dubai Tennis Championships, will kick off on February 19.