It was an emotional farewell. Six-time Grand Slam winner, Sania Mirza, struggled to hold her tears back at the thanks-giving speech.
On her final day at the court, Sania played a couple of exhibition matches with her illustrious partners Rohan Bopanna, Ivan Dodig, Cara Black, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Marion Bartoli at the LB Stadium tennis complex centre court here on Sunday before hanging her boots.
Also Read | Sania Mirza, the shining light of Indian tennis
“I am thankful to each and everyone for the kind of send-off given to me today. I couldn’t have asked for a better farewell,” an emotional Sania said.
“It all began here in 2002 when I won medals in the National Games. Then in 2004, I won my first WTA title (doubles).
“As someone said, it has been a one-handed drive for me. Yes, it has been an honour to represent the country at the highest level for 20 long years,” she added.
“It was so difficult for not many to believe in a young kid taking up tennis, more so a girl. But, it was only my parents who believed in me and have been with me right through this journey,” said Sania.
“Yes, I am going to (…pauses for a long moment wiping off the tears even as the crowds lustily chanted Sania Sania) to miss the game. But I can tell you I will be there with the Telangana Government and the Sports Authority of Telangana State to produce another Sania,” she stated.
“In fact, we need more and more Sanias and will work for that for sure,” she said.
“These are happy tears. I miss you guys,” signed off Sania.
Stars, ministers and police officer enlighten the event
Earlier, joining the tennis stars in the exhibition matches was former India cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who partnered Bethanie to play against Sania and Dodig.
It was obvious that Sania was the cynosure of all eyes at the moment.
If the first couple of exhibition matches were filled with fun, the mixed doubles match, where Sania partnered one of her most successful partners Rohan against Dodig and Bethanie, provided glimpses of Sania’s famed artistry.
Those trademark forehand returns, the deft drops at the net and those spirited, diving interceptions were to the fore as the crowd cheered Sania every time she scored a point and helped her team win ‘the contest’.
With the Mirza family in attendance - father Imran, mother Nasima, sister Anam, brother-in-law Asad, Anam’s father-in-law former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin- the occasion was not bereft of the moments which all of them would surely love to freeze in memory.
When given the mike to express her thoughts, a female fan was uncontrollably weeping, which made Sania walk across to share feelings with a touch of warmth.
Another female fan, also crying, said that Sania represented the women’s force fighting against all odds.
‘Sania is truly inspirational’: Kiren Rijiju
Telangana IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao, Sports Minister V. Srinivas Goud, lauded Sania for her “inspirational career”, and presented mementos to Sania, her family members and the tennis stars.
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, present at the ceremony, said, “I have come here for the farewell event and the crowds here show that Sania is truly inspirational not just for tennis players but for the entire country with her achievements.”
City Police Commissioner C.V. Anand was also present at the event.
- India in ICC ODI World Cup Final: Full list of results, stats before IND vs AUS CWC23 match
- Australia in ICC ODI World Cup Final: Full list of results, stats before IND vs AUS CWC23 match
- IND vs AUS, ICC World Cup 2023: Which artists are performing in the final at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad?
- IND vs AUS, ICC World Cup 2023 final: What happens if match is abandoned? Reserve Day rules explained
- F1 fans file class-action lawsuit against the Las Vegas Grand Prix