Dubai: If former world No. 1 Kim Clijsters has managed to capture the imagination of the sporting world with her second comeback on the WTA Tour here, India’s Sania Mirza will bring in the crowds after being handed out one of two wild cards in the doubles at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open.
Mirza has been given a wild card by the organisers along with French partner Caroline Garcia. The Indo-French pair will start their campaign in Dubai against Alla Kudryavtseva and Dubai-based Slovenian, Katarina Srebotnik, in their first round doubles match possibly on Tuesday.
Mirza made a comeback on to the WTA this season following more than two years off the circuit with motherhood. She missed the first few tournaments on the 2018 season, citing a knee injury. Then in April, the Indian announced on Instagram that she was pregnant with her first child with cricketer husband Shoaib Malik. Their son Izhaan was born in October 2018.
Having celebrated her son’s first birthday, and with an eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she returned to professional tennis once again alongside Nadiia Kichenok and went on to win the Hobart International - beating second seeds Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai in the final.
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak welcomed the Indo-French pairing as one of two wild cards this year. “Both have played in Dubai on many occasions in the past. Sania is important for Dubai as well as the UAE due to the presence of more than 3.3 million Indians living here,” Tahlak told Gulf News.
“Both make a great team competing together and we are assured that we will have some tough matches along the way for the fans,” he added.