Colm McLoughlin handing over the replica of the women's singles trophy to Sania Mirza , Ramesh Chidambi, Steve Simon and Salah Tahlak watch during the felicitation ceremony at the centre court on Thursday. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Recently retired Indian ace Sania Mirza said she would miss competing on the Dubai courts, where her career took off 18 years ago when as a wild card she defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals.

In an emotional speech during the felicitation organised by the WTA Tour and the Dubai Duty Free during the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Thursday, the 36-year-old thanked her parents and her sister for helping her to reach the pinnacle of world tennis, her coaches, support staff and physios, whom she credited with keeping her in one piece through the gruelling schedule of the Tour.

She, however, had huge praise for the organisers of the Dubai Tennis Championships, who gave her the wild card in 2005 championships, where she got the first taste of defeating a world top-10 player.

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Sania Mirza receiving a memento from WTA Tour. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Next chapter of life

“Dubai is special for me. It used to be home away from home and it is actually my home now and my son goes to school here. So I couldn’t have thought of better place to finish my career, in front of you all, where the journey started 18 years ago,” Sania said.

“Thank you so much. To tell my four-year old son that I just played a Grand Slam final a month and half ago is so special. So it’s emotional and looking forward to the next chapter of my life. I have made so many friends on tour and I will miss them. I am not going away, but I will miss competing and walking out on these beautiful courts,” concluded the six-time Grand Slam champion.

WTA Tour Steve Simon, Chairman and CEO, WTA Tour and Donna Kelso, WTA Tour supervisor, presented Sania a memento, while Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Duty Free, Ramesh Chidambi, COO at DDF, Salah Tahlak, Tournament Director of DDF Tennis Championships, presented a replica of the women’s singles trophy, watched by her parents.