Sania Mirza, India's most successful female tennis player, announced that 2022 will be her final season on the WTA tour after her first-round loss in women's doubles at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
"I've decided that this will be my last season. I'm taking it week by week. Not sure if I can last the season, but I want to," the 35-year-old said at the post-match press conference.. Imran Mirza, her father and coach confirmed this to ESPN.
"There's a bunch 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 do feel, considering my son is three years old, I'm putting him at risk by travelling so much with him, that's something I have to take into account. 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," she said.
Mirza, seeded 12th with Nadiia Kichenok, went down to Kaja Juvan and Tamara Zidansek 4-6, 6-7 (5) and is set to play mixed doubles with Rajeev Ram next.
- Prajwal Hegde (@prajhegde) January 19, 2022
"Also for me to find that motivation everyday to come out, the energy is not the same anymore. Right this minute, it's there but there are days where I don't feel like doing that. I've always said that I will play until I enjoy that grind, the process and not just winning but you have to enjoy the process and I am not sure I'm enjoying it anymore. I am enjoying it enough to play this season. I've worked very hard to come back, get fit, lose the weight and try to set a good example for mothers, new mothers to follow their dreams as much as they can. Beyond this season, I don't feel my body doing it. It's beat," she said.
The 35-year-old also said she had already decided that 2022 will be her last season and the first-round loss didn't trigger it.
"I am playing at a good level. First week in Adelaide, we (she and Kichenok) beat top-10, 20 players. I am playing at a decent level. I was pretty sure this is my last season, if I do finish it. I am sure I am not coming to Melbourne to play Australian Open again.
"I had great memories here, singles, doubles and mixed doubles. It's been a great journey. I am not looking forward to June or July, I am literally going week to week, with my body, with virus, there is so much uncertainty. Every time I play, I feel I have a chance to win, that's why I am here. It is not because of disappointment of today's match. Just the way my body is. I am not sure if I can finish the season. I want to play full season, I am still (ranked) 50-60 in world, I do feel I have the level to play.
"As an athlete I feel I can go deep in tournaments. But I have a bit of a meniscus issue going on my right knee, I woke up with wrist pain couple of days ago. There is nothing wrong with it. At 35, I am waking up with couple of things that I don't know where they're coming from. I want to finish the season, try to play until US Open, that is my goal. But I still have to take it week-to-week," she said.
The 35-year-old 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, with whom she formed one of the most successful pairs in women's doubles.
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.