Sania Mirza is the most decorated woman in Indian Tennis. Sania announced earlier this year that she will be retiring from professional tennis after turning pro in 2003 and representing India on the biggest stage on innumerable occasions. She has a stellar resume with 6 Grand Slam doubles titles (3 in Women’s doubles, 3 in the Mixed category).
Sania teamed up with Kristin Flipkins from Germany at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California, USA. The duo fell in the Round of 16 to No.5 seeds Gabriela Dabrowsky and Guiliana Olmos in 3 tight sets with a 4-6 6-4 3-10 scoreline. She spoke with Indian Tennis Daily reflecting on her match and her career representing India on the big stage.
ITD: Sania, you guys had a very tough loss today losing in the match tie break. You guys lost the first set and made a good comeback in the second. Can you share some thoughts about how you felt today overall?
Sania: I think we really lost the match in the first set. It was overall very important. We had a lot of break points and about 3 games with 15- 40 which we couldn’t convert. In this format, if you don’t take the chances you create, you don’t win. It’s as simple as that. In the super tie break, it’s always a toss up. A couple of points here and there could change the whole match. Especially I felt we were unlucky in the first and third point in that super tie break which we should’ve won or we could have won. So yeah basically we lost the match in the first set given we had opportunities in about 4 games in that set to break. Technically we should’ve won that set 6-2. Instead we lost it 6-4.
ITD: You have 43 career titles which is the most amongst active women players. You have pretty much achieved everything in women’s tennis and as an individual tennis player. Given this is your last year on the tour, do you have any special memory in this journey that you look back to and cherish?
Sania: Yeah I think I’m truly lucky and fortunate to say that I have won enough and it would be difficult to say one thing would be special amongst them all. But definitely winning the Grand Slams and winning here (Indian Wells) a couple of times would definitely stand out. This is what we play for: big crowds and big stadiums and big matches like today. I’m thankful that I had a lot of such occasions in my career. Becoming No.1 in the world is something else that’s up there too. Winning Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston in a row and going on about a winning streak of 41 matches have all been there along with winning slams. It’s very difficult to pinpoint one occasion and call it special. I really enjoy my time on the court and I still feel I have the level to perform at the best which is why I have had some good results lately and that’s why I am still here.
ITD: You are currently partnering with Kristen Flipkins. Do you plan on teaming up with other players over the year? Perhaps with your good friend Ons Jabeur?
Sania:For me, it would be amazing to finish the year within a top 10 ranking. I feel I have the game and level to do that. That’s really the goal and hopefully I get to do that. I have always lived my life on my own terms and played tennis on my own terms. That’s what I want to do. I want to get to that pinnacle again and reach top 10 and call it there. I’m playing with Kristin here and next week in Miami and after that I’m in talks with other players and we’ll see how that goes
ITD: Do you have any thoughts on the upcoming Billie Jean Cup that’s going to be played in Turkey on Clay?
Sania: Oh yes I have always been representing my country at the Fed Cup at that time which is now the Billie Jean Cup since 2002 if I’m not wrong. So yes it’s been a long time. It’s really a great honor to be a part of your county’s team. Obviously, it’s time to pass the baton now and hopefully these girls now can take over as I’ve now been playing for a long time and it’s now in 2022 it’s over 20 years (laughs). So hopefully we can have the next generation of Indian Girls take over. At some point, we all have to retire and I’m at that stage in my career right now. But yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to being part of team India again for one last run and it’s definitely been an honor.
ITD: You have done a lot for Indian Tennis and for Women’s tennis overall. Do you have any parting thoughts for upcoming Indian players and girls especially back home dreaming about being tennis champions one day?
Sania: I have been asked this question multiple times over my career and unfortunately we’ve always come up blank as to answering who the next big (women’s) player is going to be to represent India at the highest levels in tennis. I was able to do that for so many years now thankfully. Unfortunately we’ve never really had one young girl who has so far come up and risen to the occasion like being in the second weeks of Slams, being in the top 50 of the world and (other) such big achievements. I hope the young girls do not stop dreaming that they can do it. It’s a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of perseverance. There’s a lot of things that go into it. But yeah the next generation, Ankita (Raina) is not that young anymore. She’s 28-29. At 29 I was thinking of retiring (laughs). But I hope these girls can make that next jump. Because it would be a shame not to have Indian Women’s representation at slams after I’m done.
Sania also had kind words for ITD and its volunteers for spreading tennis in India and expressed her gratitude. We wish Sania a very successful season before she pulls the curtain on her illustrious career later in 2022.