Ace Indian tennis player Sania Mirza on Wednesday announced her retirement and said that 2022 will be her final season on the WTA tour after her first-round loss in women's doubles at the Australian Open. The 35-year-old Mirza and her Ukrainian partner Nadiia Kichenok, seeded 12th, lost 4-6, 6-7 to the unseeded Slovenian pair of Kaja Juvan and Tamara Zidansek in one hour and 36 minutes.
"There's a few reasons for it. It's not as simple as 'okay I'm not going to play'. I do feel my recovery is taking longer, I'm putting my three-year-old son at risk by travelling so much with him, that's something I have to take into account. I think my body is wearing down. My knee was really hurting today and I'm not saying that's the reason we lost but I do think that it is taking time to recover as I'm getting older," Sania told broadcasters after the match at Melbourne Park.
"Also for me to find that motivation everyday to come out. The energy is not the same anymore. There are more days than there used to be where I don't feel like doing that. I've always said that I will play until I enjoy that grind, the process which I'm not sure I'm enjoying as much anymore," she added. Sania is a former world No. 1 in doubles and had a career-best ranking of 27 in singles. She is currently ranked 68th in the world.
Mirza, the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam, has won Majors in doubles along with medals at Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. Her last Slam came at the 2016 Australian Open with Martina Hingis.
"I have a bit of a meniscus issue going on my right knee, I woke up with wrist pain a couple of days ago. At 35, I am waking up with a couple of things that I don't know where they're coming from! I want to finish the season, to at least play until the US Open, that is my goal. But I still have to take it week-to-week," Sania said.
Mirza is now set to play mixed doubles with fellow Grand Slam champion Rajeev Ram of the USA.
"If this is my last Grand Slam, it is a great way to go out to play with someone who I've known since I was 12 years old and we'll just try to have fun on the court," she said.
The Indian has not played on the WTA tour as regularly in the last few years, first due to her maternity break in 2018 and then due to the pandemic right after her comeback in 2020. Her last title came in September 2021, when she won her 43rd doubles trophy at the Ostrava Open with Shuai Zhang.