Tennis superstar Sania Mirza to retire in 2022. What has her career been like?
Sania Mirza, the 35-year-old Indian tennis superstar, has announced her retirement from the game after the 2022 season, citing her injuries and parental responsibilities.
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The tennis world didn't start on a good note in 2022. The year began with the controversial visa saga of Serbian tennis superstar Novak Djokovic who was detained, his visa cancelled twice and at last deported out of Australia, robbing him of the chance to win his 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open 2022.
Now, India’s greatest woman tennis superstar, Sania Mirza, has decided to retire from the game after the 2022 season. The decision to retire came after suffering a defeat in the Australian Open women's doubles with her partner Nadia Kichenok. The duo was trounced by Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek and Kaja Juvan in the first round itself.
The six-time Grand Slam champion announced her retirement during the presser after the game. She said that her body is taking time to recover from injuries and that she realises she is getting old. Sania Mirza also expressed concern about taking her three-year-old son with her during a raging pandemic. She added that her body is wearing down, her knees hurting, and all of this has made her come to the decision to retire.
Here’s a brief look back at her career:
1. A GLORIOUS CAREER
Sania Mirza. Photo: Getty Images
Sania Mirza is the first Indian woman to win six Grand Slam championships, the first Indian woman and third player from the country to break into Top 30 in singles, and two times Asian Games Gold medallist. Sania also holds the record of being a 42-time tour winner, and also being the first woman to clinch the WTA single title in 2005.
Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza’s former mixed doubles partner, once said that the tennis player was focussed on what she wanted to do when it came to tennis. Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi together won two Grand Slam titles. The first one was the Australian Open (2009) and the second, the French Open (2012). The partnership ended in 2012.
2. BATTLED DEPRESSION AFTER WRIST INJURY
Sania Mirza went through one of the biggest lows of her career in 2008, when she had to pull out of the Beijing Olympics due to a wrist injury. The tennis player was suffering from an acute wrist injury which kept her out of the game.
Speaking in an interview to a YouTube channel Mind Matters, the 35-year-old said that she sunk into depression for 3-4 months after the injury. She said that she would burst into tears all of a sudden for no reason. She recalled that even getting out for a meal from her room was difficult. Handling the mental trauma of not being able to play took a toll on her.
She added that her injury left her in so much pain that she couldn’t even comb her hair. She said that to read every day that she wouldn’t be able to play and that her career was over was traumatic, and she couldn’t handle all of this at the young age of 20.
3. THE MIRACULOUS RECOVERY AND COMEBACK
Former Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh had recommended Jatin Choudhry, a physiotherapist/Sports Injury specialist, to Sania Mirza for treatment of her injured wrist. Sania, back then, had said that she was running to hospitals for treatment where doctors recommended surgery.
Sania considered Yuvraj’s advice and consulted Jatin Choudhry. The spiral Korean therapy on Sania’s injured wrist worked and she started recuperating fast. Speaking to PTI, she said that she was fortunate to have met someone like Jatin, who came and pulled off a miracle. She said it was a desperate time where she was running around hospitals and getting countless MRIs done. She added that Yuvraj played a big part in getting her wrist healed.
After spending half of 2008 dealing with an injured wrist, Sania made a comeback at the Classic Tennis tournament in Hong Kong in January 2009 in a team tournament. She performed considerably well after healing from her injury.
4. SPLIT WITH MARTINA HINGIS
Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis. Photo: Getty Images
The pair of former Swiss international tennis player Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza, given the moniker 'Santina' by fans, had a great 16-month run. Together, they won 11 WTA titles, 3 Grand Slams, and an unbeaten streak of 41 victories. The duo at a time had become the No.1 in women’s doubles and was unbeatable.
However, a loss in February 2016 against Russian players Elena Vesnina and Daria Kasatkina affected the relationship between Martina and Sania. But, many say one loss was too inconsequential to break the bond between two people who were aspiring to win the fourth Grand Slam.
Jaideep Mukerjea, a veteran tennis player who writes for the Bengali daily Ananda Bazar Patrika, said in 2016 that the main reason behind their split was their mixed doubles partners. Sania played in partnership with Ivan Dodig, while India’s Leander Paes played with Hingis. Sania never shared a warm relationship with Paes and a loss against Hingis and Paes just widened that gap. Sania’s reaction to the defeat was unacceptable to Hingis and thereby in a short span, the duo separated.
5. MARRIAGE WITH A PAKISTANI CRICKETER
Sania Mirza and former Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malick with their 3 year old son, Izhar Mirza Malick. Photo: Sania Mirza official
Sania Mirza was in news again in 2010 when she married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik on April 12, 2010. Their marriage was mired in controversies and people asked Sania if she would play for Pakistan after the wedding. Sania reacted to all controversies by saying that the marriage between two people from two different countries should be treated like a marriage and nothing else.
The couple have a three-year-old son, Izhar Mirza Malick.