Indian tennis sensation Sania Mirza played her last match on February 21 in Dubai. Paired with Madison Keys, Mirza lost 4-6, 0-6 to Liudmila Samsonova and Veronika Kudermetova. Sania Mirza has a brilliant tennis career. One of the greatest tennis players from India or even South Asia, Sania Mirza has won six Grand Slam titles including three doubles and three mixed doubles crowns. During her 20-year career, she also won 44 WTA titles. Sania Mirza played her last major at the 2023 Australian Open last month – finishing runner-up in the mixed doubles alongside Rohan Bopanna.
The 36-year-old, Tennis star has been a source of inspiration for many Indian tennis players with numerous milestones and ‘firsts’ to her name. She also holds the record of being the 1st Indian woman to win a WTA and Grand Slam title. Firstpost talked to Sania Mirza’s peers about what she meant to the tennis world.
“The way she has inspired so many people around the globe, I think that is truly her legacy. The time when she came to the sport, she got into top-30 in the world. She was the first female player to do so in any sport in the country. And that was something else.
“She really got a lot of people inspired to start tennis and watch tennis. I have a lot of fantastic memories with her. We played mixed doubles at the Nationals in Delhi when she was 14 years old to play Hopman Cup to play a lot of mixed doubles in the Grand Slams, to play the Olympics. It’s been such a fantastic journey”
Karman Kaur Thandi:
“I think sport in India changed with her, when she came into the picture. A lot of girls took up sport, took up tennis. There’s a lot, a lot to learn from her. I am grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to share the court with her.
“She’s shared some experiences that only a player can share with a player. She’s played at that level and when someone like that believes in you, your game, it motivates you to keep going through the right track and keep improving on the things they see as well.
“I’ve known her for like 20 years now. She’s from the same city as I am so like I’ve known her on-court, off-court. She’s had one of the best careers coming out of India, especially a women’s tennis player playing and motivated a lot of players to take up the sport. It’s great to see that and I hope a lot of women were motivated and a lot more players come out from India that way.
“She set the ceiling and for the next generation can see that someone from India can do it also. It’s not just the girls but even guys get motivated to see her playing at this level.
“She was in the top-30 in singles and then a Grand Slam champion in doubles so the barrier has been set. It’s not easy steps to fill in but it’s a big challenge and then hopefully she uses her knowledge to the next generation and coming forward it’ll be a good phase of her life. It’s a new change and I wish her good luck.”
She started playing at the age of six on courts with a pothole made of cow dung, a modest compromise between clay and hard courts. Mirza proved to be a natural and found success as a junior tennis player, winning the girls’ doubles title at Wimbledon in 2003 when she was 15.