Sania Mirza: I surpassed my expectations in tennis

Sania says her career-high rankings in women’s doubles and singles top her list of achievements.

Sania Mirza wishes to spend more time with her family - and especially son Izhaan - after retirement.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

Sania Mirza is all set to compete in the Dubai Open with Lucie Hradecka after Shelby Rogers, her original partner, tested positive for COVID-19. She will compete in the Doha Open, too, this month, and hopes to finish her career on a high.

In a chat with Sportstar, the 35-year-old said she had surpassed expectations and her own goals with her list of achievements in tennis.

“Well, the motivation always comes from within. I don’t think it was ever a challenge or else I wouldn’t have played for so long - 20 years - and still be competing,” Sania said with a big smile.

“Yes, it would have been great if the injuries had not hampered my singles career just when I was peaking at the right time. Not many might remember that I was ranked World No. 27 in 2007 and was in the world’s top 100 for eight consecutive years in singles,” the six-time Grand Slam winner said.

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Interestingly, only the great Vijay Amritraj (No. 18) and Ramesh Krishnan (No. 23) were have been ranked higher in singles among Indians. “Maybe, if I do well in the next few tournaments, I might well change my decision. But, at this given point of time, my body is not willing and I am doubtful of extending my career,” she said.

Reflecting on her decision to quit, Sania said it was a difficult call but not as simple as waking up and deciding not to play any more after this season. “It was a very, very hard decision after a lot of issues, including my current physical state of body, were considered,” she added.

“To single out any one or two achievements as the most satisfying will be very tough to say in such a long career. But, yes, being the World No. 1 women’s doubles and being ranked so high in singles top my list,” Sania said.

“I always felt like a contender every time I played. I have no regrets at all. Very, very grateful for having such a wonderful career at the highest level and I have achieved everything in tennis,” she said.

Who is next after Sania? “Yes, we are all concerned about this question which has been asked over the last few years but getting a blank. I do hope we find the next player to keep the Indian flag flying at all major events including Grand Slams,” Sania said.

After retirement, Sania would love to spend more time with the family - with her son Izhaan Mirza Malik and also with players at the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy in Hyderabad. “Not really decided what I am going to do after retirement. But spending more time with the young talent at SMTA is an option for sure,” Sania signed off.

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