Sania ends her Grand Slam career with a mixed doubles runner-up finish in the Australian Open 2023
From winning all the Grand Slams to registering her own name four times as an Olympian, the achievements of Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza not only registered her as the most accomplished Women’s tennis player in the country but also gave her the status of a National Sporting icon.
Coming into her final major tournament, Sania had six Grand Slam titles – three women’s doubles as many as Mixed Doubles in her cabinet. And her mixed doubles partner compatriot Rohan Bopanna has one French Open mixed doubles title to his name.
Sania and Rohan Bopanna, still an exciting doubles pair 22 years after they first partnered at the National Championship in India, went down in the mixed doubles final at the Australian Open 6-7(2), 2-6 to the Brazilians Luisa Stefani and Rafael Mataos.
In her final major, the 36-year-old Sania admitted her emotions almost boiled over after the Indians stunned third seeds and reigning Wimbledon champions Desirae Krawczyk and Neal Skupski in the semifinals. There was no holding them back after her final match at Melbourne Park, 22 years after she first teamed with Bopanna.
It was an emotional final, perhaps a bit too heavily on the Indians at times as a string of nervy errors showed.
Sania, who said she is not one to cry in public, was visibly emotional after. “If I cry, these are happy tears. That’s just a disclaimer,” she said in court.
“I’m still going to play a couple of more tournaments but the journey of my professional career started in Melbourne. It started in 2005 when I played Serena Williams in the third round as an 18-year-old and that was, scarily enough, 18 years ago. I have had the privilege to come back here again and again, win some tournaments here and play some great finals amongst you all. Rod Laver Arena has really been special in my life and I couldn’t think of a better arena to finish my career at in a Grand Slam,” she added.
Interestingly, Sania claimed her first major in 2009 at Melbourne Park, when she paired up with Mahesh Bhupathi. And she ended her illustrious Grand Slam career here.
Sania was the first Indian to win a WTA singles title, in 2005 at her hometown Hyderabad. She reached the fourth round of the US Open the same year and by 2007 was among Women’s top 30. But a wrist injury at the crucial stage of her career bound her to concentrate on doubles, forging a partnership with Swiss great Martina Hingis which produced three Grand Slam titles.
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