Trailblazing Indian tennis star Sania Mirza capped off her glorious Grand Slam career with a runners-up finish alongside ‘best friend’ Rohan Bopanna in the Australian Open mixed doubles final in Melbourne on Friday.
“If I cry, these are happy tears. That’s just a disclaimer. Congratulations to our opponents. This is your moment and I don’t want to take it away. You guys played really well today and you deserve to win. I’m still going to play a couple of more tournaments but the journey of my professional career started in Melbourne,” an emotional Sania said as she struggled to hold back her tears.
“It started in Melbourne 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 in a Grand Slam. Thank you so much for making me feel at home here.”
“Rohan was my first-ever mixed doubles partner when I was 14 and we won the nationals. It wasn’t the same arena like this one but it was 22 years ago and I couldn’t think of a better person, he’s my best friend and one of my best partners to finish my career with,” Sania said, thanking Bopanna, who has one French Open mixed doubles title to his credit.
“To play the final, obviously we couldn’t get over the line but there is no better place and person for me to finish my Grand Slam career with.”
The 36-year-old, who earlier announced that the WTA event in Dubai next month will be her swansong, is India’s most accomplished woman tennis player, having won six Grand Slam titles, including three mixed doubles trophies.
She won the mixed doubles titles at the 2009 Australian Open and the 2012 French Open with Mahesh Bhupathi and the 2014 US Open with Brazillian Bruno Soares.
The presence of her son Izhaan, alongside family and friends made the occasion sweeter.
“I never thought I’d be able to play in front of my child in a Grand Slam final, so it’s truly special for me, to have my four-year-old here and my parents here, and Rohan’s wife, my trainers, my family in Australia who made me feel like a home away from home.
“Cara Black who is my best friend and one of my first partners, it’s been truly special I wouldn’t have achieved anything without you all,” Sania said.
(with inputs from PTI)