Sania Mirza says 2022 is her farewell season.
The former doubles world No. 1 announced she will close the curtain on her glorious career at the conclusion of this season.
The 35-year-old Mirza told the media in Melbourne of her plan to pull the plug on her playing career following her Australian Open opening-round doubles exit. Kaja Juvan and Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia defeated Mirza and Nadiia Kichenok 6-4, 7-6.
The owner of six Grand Slam doubles championships says her desire to spend more time at home with her three-year-old son and the punishment her body has absorbed during her career are key factors in her farewell.
“There are a few reasons for it. It’s not as simple as okay I’m not going to play,” Sania Mirza said. “I do feel my recovery is taking longer, I’m putting my 3-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 Mirza and her husband, cricket star Shoaib Malik, are proud parents to three-year-old son Izhaan. India’s first female world No. 1 is one of several moms—Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Tsvetana Pironkova, Vera Zvonareva, Elena Vesnina and Kim Clijsters are among the others—showing former stars can take a break, have a baby and return to Tour success.
These days, Mirza says her desire and competitive energy wavers.
“Also for me to find that motivation every day to come out. The energy is not the same anymore,” she told the media in Melbourne. “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.”
The woman who has won three mixed doubles Grand Slam titles can complete a career Grand Slam in mixed by winning Wimbledon though she concedes her body simply won’t withstand the pro circuit beyond this year.
“I still want to play the season because I’m enjoying it enough to play the year,” Sania Mirza said. “I’ve worked very hard to come back, get fit, lose 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.”
Photo credit: Christopher Levy