Indian tennis sensation Sania Mirza ended her glorious career with a first-round defeat in the Dubai Tennis Championship on Tuesday (February 21). Sania teamed up with Madison Keys but lost to the Russian pair of Vernokia Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova in straight sets, 4-6, 0-6, to bow out of competitive tennis with as many as six Grand Slam titles, including three women’s doubles (with Swiss legend Martina Hingis).
During the course of her career, Sania inspired a bunch of female athletes and earned several accolades for the country. Two of her three mixed doubles came with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi (2009 Australian Open and 2012 French Open) whereas she claimed the US Open title with Bruno Soares in 2014.
Talking about her last outing, Sania-Keys started off on a promising note as the scoreline was 4-4 in the opening set before the Russian duo marched past them to take the early honours (6-4). From thereon, it was one-way traffic as Sania-Keys fell flat in the second set to lose without posing much threat.
1) Six-time Grand Slam winner
2) 43 career titles
3) Former world No. 27 in women’s Singles
4) Former world No. 1 in women’s Doubles
5) Only Indian woman to feature in top-100 in the singles category
‘Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do what you want’
In an interview with the Indian Express, ahead of her last competitive match, Sania shared an inspiring speech for upcoming female athletes. She said, “As a young woman, no matter what you do in life, you are put under a lot of pressure. Some – I was lucky my parents were very supportive – have to deal with it at home. Externally, you have to deal with it in terms of the society at large… it is an ongoing process of simply trying to prove that you’re doing the right thing, just because it’s different.”
“I want to tell these young women – don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do what you want. You cannot let anybody else decide what you should or should not do, and I am sure they will try. No matter how outside the box your choice is, always back yourself,” Sania added.
Sania was set to hang up her boots at end of 2022 but an injury pushed her retirement plans by a few months. She bows out as one of India’s top sporting stars. She will serve as Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) team mentor in the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL), which kicks off next month.