Sania Mirza had a tough outing at the Australian Open, her first Grand Slam since the return, as she and her Nadiia Kichenok had to retire from the match after being down 26 01 against their Chinese opponents Han Xinyun and Zhu Lin in R1 of the Australian Open Women’s doubles event.

Piyush Bajaj caught up with Sania Mirza after the match to understand her thoughts on the match, the injury and on the path forward.

After so long, you were in the Grand Slam and it wasn’t a good ending? Any thoughts on that?

Obviously, it’s disappointing to come out of come out and not be able to compete and finish a match. I honestly don’t remember the last time I retired in a match. I’ve played through a lot of pain in my life. But a muscle strain is something that you can’t do much, and calf is something that you need in everything you do. You know, at least if it’s a left arm or something, you don’t actually need it in every shot that you play. So it is unfortunate.

Photograph by Balaram Dhulipala

But like I said, I still have to look at the positives. I have to look at the fact that I came back and won the first tournament that I played. I still have to look at the fact that I’m still able to play high level tennis when my body’s healthy. So, yeah, I you know, I’m going to try to take the positive. I mean, even though it’s difficult, maybe half an hour after a match like that to come out and say, I’m going to look at the positives, but I have to do that.

Could you talk a bit about your injury if you had picked it up in Hobart or before that?

Yeah, I strained it a bit in Hobart final and it got better over the last few days. But in the match it got worse. And, you know, it was just a smart decision to stop because I didn’t obviously want to get so bad, where I’m out for like a couple of months.

What are the next steps from here and how soon can you get back to the court?

Well, the first thing is to obviously get good rehab, rest, rest it out and try to get healthy again. You know, calf is something that is quite recurring and it’s not something that goes away easily. So I have to make sure I do proper rehab and, you know, just try to get healthy again and hopefully be okay to play in a few weeks.

My last question. Apart from what’s happened today, you are an icon back home in India. What advice would you like to give the new girls who want to start playing tennis.

What I think is to believe in yourself. Because, there’s enough people telling us otherwise. And I think that sport is still not probably the most natural profession that most girls choose. I think it’s not something in our part of the world where you have a girl child and you say, I’m going to make her a tennis champion or a boxer or whatever it is, but it is changing. But so, yeah, you have to believe in yourself and believe that there is no such thing as you cannot do. Anything is possible. If you put your mind and soul into it.

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