Trailblazing Indian tennis star Sania Mirza capped off her glorious Grand Slam career with a runners-up finish alongside ‘best friend’ Rohan Bopanna in the Australian Open mixed doubles final here on Friday. Pairing up with her first-ever mixed doubles partner Bopanna, the unseeded Indian duo went down 6-7(2) 2-6 to the Brazilian pair of Luisa Stefani and Rafael Mataos in the final at the Rod Laver Arena.
“If I cry, these are happy tears. That’s just a disclaimer. I’m still going to play a couple of more tournaments but my journey of my professional career started in Melbourne,” an emotional Sania said as she struggled to hold back tear.
“Rohan was my first-ever mixed doubles partner when I was 14 and we won the nationals, it was 22 year ago and I couldn’t think of a better person, he’s my best friend and one of my best partners to finish my career,” Sania said, thanking Bopanna, who has one French Open mixed doubles title to his credit.
Congratulations @MirzaSania on a wonderful career. Thank you for your service to Indian sport and for inspiring millions of girls to take up sport !
— Abhinav A. Bindra OLY (@Abhinav_Bindra) January 27, 2023
Congratulations on an amazing career, @MirzaSania! You’ve given your everything to tennis and to women’s sports. It’s an iconic legacy indeed. It was always a pleasure to watch you play & watch you become the champion that you are. Best wishes for your future endeavours. pic.twitter.com/iUFygrt4D4
— Mithali Raj (@M_Raj03) January 27, 2023
Congratulations on your great career run Sania Mirza. As you bow out of grand slam tennis you have paved the path for many aspiring sportswomen.
Well played! @MirzaSania #SaniaMirza #RohanBopanna #AustralianOpen #GrandSlam
— Mohammed Azharuddin (@azharflicks) January 27, 2023
Congratulations @MirzaSania What a wonderful career at the very top of the sport. A sporting icon https://t.co/9zwPxcnnYq
— Shreyas Iyer (@ShreyasIyer15) January 27, 2023
Best wishes @MirzaSania as you bid farewell to your highly successful #GrandSlam career. History of #tennis will be incomplete without you. I am sure your life beyond the Tennis court will be as interesting as your accomplishments in sports.
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) January 27, 2023
What words come to mind when one think of Sania? For me it’s Passion,Perseverance and sheer Hard Work. Congratulations @MirzaSania on an outstanding career and all the Best in your second innings #Legend #Tennis #Champion @AustralianOpen pic.twitter.com/4w1d3eVgAL
— Waqar Younis (@waqyounis99) January 27, 2023
The 36-year-old, who earlier announced that the WTA event in Dubai next month will be her swansong, is India’s most accomplished woman tennis player, having won six Grand Slam title, including three mixed doubles trophies.
She had won the the mixed doubles titles at the 2009 Australian Open and the 2012 French Open with Mahesh Bhupathi and the 2014 US Open with Brazillian Bruno Soares.
The Rod Laver Arena has been a happy hunting ground for the Hyderabadi. She has a women’s doubles and mixed doubles title each and has finished runner up four times at the Australian Open.
“It started in 2005 when I played Serena Williams in the third round as an 18-year-old and that was scarily enough 18 years ago. I have had the privilege to come back here again and again, win some tournaments here and play some great finals amongst you all.
“Rod Laver Arena has really been special in my life and I coudn’t think of a better arena to finish my career at in a Grand Slam,” Sania said.
The presence of her son Izhaan , alongside family and friends made the occasion sweeter.
“I never thought I’d be able to play in front of my child in a Grand Slam final, so it’s truly special for me, to have my four-year-old here and my parents here, and Rohan’s wife, my trainers, my family in Australia who made me fell like home away from home.
“Cara Black who is my best friend and one of my first partners, it’s been truly special I wouldn’t be able to achieve anything without you all,” Sania said.
The Indians were on the back foot from the beginning as they were broken in the very first game and were down 0-2.
But the two veterans managed to settle down after a nervy start, winning three games in a row to quickly take a 5-3 lead. The Brazillians, however, forced a tiebreak capitalising on Bopanna’s poor service games.
With the momentum on their side, Stefani and Mataos took the tiebreak after saving a set point in the 12th game.
The Indians let the Brazillians dominate them in the second set as Sania failed to hold serve in the fourth and eighth game to concede the fixture.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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