Imran Mirza was in his familiar role, watching from the stands as his famous daughter Sania Mirza and her mixed doubles partner Rohan Bopanna played in the final of the 2023 Australian Open (the duo finished runner-up). It was her last Grand Slam appearance.
When 36-year-old Sania was in tears during the post-match presentation ceremony, the mood was understandable in the Mirza family for only they knew what kind of sacrifices they had made to facilitate the evolution of the gifted, young talent into a champion performer.
“For me, Sania winning 2015 Wimbledon was the greatest moment. Then comes being ranked World No. 1 for 91 weeks,” the proud father informed Sportstar.
“Yes, we can say it all began in 2005 when she won the singles event in WTA Hyderabad Open. The 14 medals for India (eight in Asiads, four in Afro-Asian Games and two in Commonwealth Games) are truly memorable too,” he explained.
But, Sania as always from the early days proved she was a fighter and remained one.
“Yes, beating Grand Slam champions Martina Hingis (twice), Kuznetsova and Azarenka in singles and beating Dinara Safina just before she became World No. 1 was equally remarkable,” Imran said.
For her part, Sania, winner of six Grand Slam titles, displayed rare emotions. “Never thought I’d get to play a Grand Slam final in front of my son. If I cry, these are just happy tears,” Sania said at the post-match briefing of the Australian Open on Friday.
“My son needs me more than ever now and I can’t wait to live a slightly quieter and calmer life while giving him more of my time than I have been able to give so far,” Sania said.
The Mirzas, who were so used to a rigorous daily schedule, taking care of every minute detail of Sania’s tennis career for close to three decades, may not have the same lifestyle anymore.