Sania Mirza with her son
Indian ace Sania Mirza with her son Izhaan Mirza Malik during the press conference after losing in the first round. Image Credit: A.K.S. Satish/Gulf News

Dubai: For 30 years, Sania Mirza got up every day in the morning and headed to the tennis court, and put in countless hours of practice to perfect her game. That routine ended today. The six-time Grand Slam champion hung up her tennis racquet in Dubai on Tuesday, bringing an end to her glorious career.

The 36-year old Indian was mentally prepared to play the women’s doubles first round match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday, only to learn that game was postponed to Tuesday. “I was crying on the way to the stadium, and all my crying went waste,” said Sania, who, accompanied by her son Izhaan Mirza Malik.

Sania Mirza
Indian ace Sania Mirza waves to the fans after losing her final match of her career. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News


After a successful career that includes Six Grand Slam and two WTA Tour finals doubles titles in her trophy cabinet and numerous awards and accolades in her 20-year career, are there any regrets?

“Missing the Rio Olympics medal still hurts,” Mirza said in response to a Gulf News question. “I think if there was something that would have got me back, it would probably be that Rio Olympics, to win that medal. I feel that's probably the only thing. It was one of my biggest dreams to win a medal for India, having been at the Olympics four times, which was huge for me. We came so close to winning that medal,” said Mirza, who started her final press conference cheerfully, but became teary-eyed towards the end.

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Despite the pain of losing an Olympic medal, Mirza vehemently denied that she will make a comeback.

“No. No, no, it's not. The only reason that I continued to play because I got hurt right in the middle of last year. For me it's not acceptable. It's time for different things. My priorities are different now,” she said.

“I'm looking forward to the next phase of my life. Right now, I feel like I'm so lucky to have him (referring to her son sitting on her lap) and look forward to the normal things of life. I know they might sound really exciting to me today, but they probably won't be as exciting to wake up and do school runs for the next 15 years.”

Huge expectations

On Tuesday, playing on Court 3 of the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Mirza and her partner Madison Keys of the US were cheered by a packed crowd, after Mirza has announced that she would be retiring after the Dubai championships. After a good start, the Indo-American pair not sustain the momentum.

It’s just not possible for me to take care of my body — the physical part of it, the mental and emotional part of it. To be able to do this on my own terms, to be able to do it when I'm playing well is great.

- Sania Mirza, Indian tennis player

The Dubai resident, who made the Australian Open mixed doubles final a few weeks back with her childhood partner Rohan Bopanna, could not live up to her expectations, losing 6-4, 6-0 to the Russian pair of Veronika Kudermetova and Luidmila Samsonova

The loss ended a 20-year career on world stage, which began at the Dubai courts, making her first quarter-finals after defeating Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005.

Sania Mirza 2
Sania Mirza and Madison Keys in action during the first round on Tuesday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

On her own terms

Mirza’s decision to quit tennis may have come as a surprise for many players competing in the Dubai championships. But the 36-year-old says she doesn’t have the drive anymore and wants to go out on her own terms.

“I'm grateful I have the respect [of players]. The stuff that goes behind the scenes. It’s just not possible for me to take care of my body — the physical part of it, the mental and emotional part of it. To be able to do this on my own terms, to be able to do it when I'm playing well is great. I'll still be around tennis. It's just not for competing,” she added.

How does Mirza feel right now? “I'm actually not feeling anything,” she said, adding: “I feel pretty numb, to be very honest. I think it's going to hit me in a couple hours.” By then Mirza was fighting her tears.