New Delhi: Former doubles No.1 Sania Mirza has confirmed her plans to retire from professional tennis at Dubai Tennis Championships, a WTA 1000 event, which begins on February 19. The 36-year old Mirza initially intended to hang up her racquet at the end of last season, but an elbow injury ruled her out of the US Open and forced her to end 2022 as early as August.
A six-time major champion — three in doubles and three in mixed doubles — Mirza has signed up to compete in this month's Australian Open alongside Kazakhstan's Anna Danilina. The India tennis star who has been living in Dubai for more than a decade, will then look to bid farewell to the sport in the Emirates, where she has competed for many years in front of her massive fanbase.
Lingering calf injury
Mirza has been dealing with a lingering calf problem but is hoping it won't stop her from saying her goodbyes on the match court. "I was going to stop right after the WTA Finals, because we were going to make the WTA Finals, but I tore my tendon in my elbow right before the US Open so I had to pull out of everything," Sania told wtatennis.com. "And 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. The plan is to try and retire in Dubai during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships," she added.
Right time to quit
In a recent interview with "Curly Tales Middle East," Sania explained why she believed now was the right time. "I'm 36, and honestly my body is beat, that is the main reason for it. And I really don't have the capacity in my mind to emotionally push that much anymore. I turned pro in 2003. Priorities change, and now my priority is not to push my body to the limit every single day," the Indian said.
Focus on tennis academy
A mother to 4-year-old boy Izhaan, Mirza has recently launched a tennis academy in Dubai, which already operates in three locations and will venture into two more neighborhoods in the coming weeks. "We're trying to spread and bring tennis to people's homes, and that's really the plan," said Sania, who peaked at No.27 in the world in singles. "I feel like why don't we have players coming out of the UAE when you have money, you have infrastructure, you have everything, but you don't have the players? There's a problem somewhere so we've got to tap on the problem, whatever it may be, and try to be part of a solution. For me it's important to share my experience in the places that I live in, that's why I have one in Hyderabad [since 2013] and one in Dubai," she concluded.
(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )