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WATCH: Sania Mirza bids emotional farewell to Australian Open after mixed doubles final
The former world No. 1 will officially retire in February after finishing runner-up alongside childhood friend Rohan Bopanna on Friday.
Published Jan 27, 2023
WATCH: Mirza played the World Tennis League in December as part of her farewell tour.
Sporting superstar Sania Mirza played her final Grand Slam match on Friday after reaching the Australian Open mixed doubles final alongside childhood friend Rohan Bopanna, giving an emotional speech on Rod Laver Arena.
Though the Indian duo lost a tight two-setter to Brazilians Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos, the trophy ceremony took time to celebrate Mirza, a former WTA No. 1 and six-time Grand Slam champion across women’s and mixed doubles who became a trailblazer for Indian tennis and feminist icon.
“I just want to start by saying that if I cry, these are happy tears,” she said to warm applause from the crowd.
“I’m still going to play a couple more tournaments, but my journey of my professional career started in Melbourne in 2005…”
Mirza paused, overcome with emotion.
“…It began when I played Serena Williams in the third round as an 18-year-old here,” she continued. “That was, scarily enough, 18 years ago, and I’ve the privilege to come back here again and again, and win some tournaments and play some great finals amongst you all. Rod Laver Arena has really been special in my life. I couldn’t think of a better arena to finish my career at of the Grand Slams, so thank you so much for making me feel at home here.”
The 36-year-old twice triumphed in Melbourne Park, winning the 2009 mixed doubles title with Mahesh Bhupati and the 2016 women’s doubles trophy with Martina Hingis at the height of “SanTina’s” 44-match winning streak.
But Mirza goes furthest back with Bopanna; the two paired up when the former was just 14 years old to win the Indian National title 22 yearsago.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the title, but thank you so much for all you’ve done Indian tennis,” Bopanna said, “not only Indian tennis but inspiring each and every one across the world by playing tennis at the highest level for so many years. It really shows the amount of dedication and hard work you’ve put through.”
The occasion was extra special given the attendance of Mirza’s family and son Izhaan Mirza Malik, who was born in 2018.
“I never thought I would be able to play in front of my child in a Grand Slam final,” she said, having missed two full seasons for maternity leave. “It’s truly special for me to have my four-year-old here.”
Mirza is scheduled to play her final tournament at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.