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Sania Mirza continues to make waves in her year of retirement

India’s greatest woman tennis player Sania Mirza is making waves in her year of retirement

India’s greatest woman tennis player Sania Mirza is making waves in her year of retirement. She is the lone Indian woman player competing in the National Open Tennis Championships. And she has already left a mark in Toronto.

It may be a mere coincidence that the ongoing National Bank Open Tennis championship may be the last tournament for a couple of top tennis stars of yesteryears.

Incidentally, one of the greatest women tennis players, Serena Williams (United States) , played her last match on Canadian soil on Wednesday.

After making her first semi-final in mixed doubles in the oldest Grand Slam Wimbledon early this year, Sania created a sensation in Toronto on Wednesday.

Sania and partner  Madison Keys of the United States toppled top seeds Veronika and Elise Mertens of Belgium.

The Indian-American pair won 3-6,6-4, 10-8 to secure a place in quarterfinals. Earlier, in the first round, Sania and Keys had beaten Alize Cornet and Jil Teichmann 6-4, 3-6, 10-6.

At 35, Olympian Sania played some excellent ground strokes in both the matches in National Bank Open championships in Toronto. She is currently ranked 24th in women’s doubles.

In April, 2015, she became the first ever Indian woman to climb to world’s number one position in women’s doubles.

Sania had  announced that after 2022 she would retire from active tennis.

Incidentally, in July it was Sania Mirza’s first Wimbledon semi-final in the mixed doubles. Previously, she had made the mixed doubles quarter-finals in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

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With Sania Mirza playing her final season of professional tennis, this was her final match at the Wimbledon  – the very tournament that helped her leave her first mark on international tennis almost two decades back.

In 2005, she became the first Indian woman to win a singles WTA Tour title, picking up the crown at her hometown event in Hyderabad; also first Indian woman to lift a Grand Slam doubles title (2015 Wimbledon) and first Indian woman to rise to No.1 in either singles or doubles (did so on April 13, 2015).She represented India in 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

In the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, she in partnership with Rohan Bopanna missed her first Olympic medal by a whisker. She and Rohan lost to Rajiv Ram and Venus Williams in the semi-finals.

Both Rohan and Sania are playing the Canadian Open this year. Rohan is competing in men’s doubles at Montreal.

In 2003, Sania Mirza, then 17, won the Wimbledon girl’s doubles title with Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova, becoming the first Indian female tennis player to win a Grand Slam of any kind.

“This is where it all started for me in 2003. That was the beginning of the big things for me. This is the biggest stage of tennis,” Sania Mirza had said.

Twelve years later, Sania Mirza went on to win a senior Wimbledon title. In partnership with Martina Hingis of Switzerland , she won the women’s doubles title. That was the only time she won a Wimbledon title after her girls doubles title triumph. Incidentally, she lost her women’s doubles match in the first round at her last Wimbledon.

“I am going to miss Wimbledon but I think it is time to move on,” an emotional Sania Mirza, mother to a three-year-old son Izhaan, had said after losing in the first round of women’s doubles last week.

“There are things in life that take priority over playing tennis matches and I am at that stage now.”

Sania is married to Pakistan Test cricketer S Malik.

 

Prabhjot Singh

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