In a Mumbai hotel in December 2016 with a smiling face and an emotionless appearance, Sania Mirza stated about how there should be no leader in a strong doubles partnership. It was only a few months after the famed ‘Santina’ combo of Martina Hingis, and Mirza split up. However, with Hingis’ seniority, Indians competed on equal grounds.
It is a remark that has characterized Mirza’s journey in many ways. She is the pioneer who paved the way to the pinnacle of her sport for future generations of Indian women. She occupied her tennis in positive, hard-hitting, and unconcerned ways. But, at 35, she has decided that the ending of this season will be the end of her professional career. So Mirza announced after losing the first round of the Australian Open on January 9, 2022.
Over the years, she has experienced injuries, frequently necessitating surgery, yet Mirza refused to go away. She’d give it a break, return to the net, and gradually work her way up the ranks. Instead, she took a break from the game in 2017, recovering an injury and then resuming to the tour in 2020 immediately after delivery, winning her first tournament back in Hobart.
She managed to get back to the 68th position worldwide, but she’ll play for her passion instead of the money. Nevertheless, her profession has been recognized for everything she has accomplished.
The first Indian woman and third from the nation to hold the World No. 1 double ranking, 43-time tour winner, the one and only Indian woman to make it to the top 30 in singles, a two-time Asian Games gold medalist, and a six-time Grand Slam champion, are the statistics that stand out among Mirza’s accomplishments. Still, even as a youngster, it was clear that she was destined for excellence.
It’s an art never seen before from an Indian woman player. Mirza saw challenging problems and surpassed the greatest in the world, including Hingis (former singles No. 1), Svetlana Kuznetsova (previous No. 2) and Nadia Petrova (former No. 3) were among the names she defeated in 2006. She achieved her career record of No. 27 globally a year later.
She became the first Indian woman to win a tour title when she had won the WTA tournament in her hometown of Hyderabad in 2005. However, she was set to end the streak in the 2009 Australian Open.
She created the benchmark, but she didn’t have anyone else’s shoes to fill. There was no baseline to measure her progress with. There was no Indian woman who had conquered more than one round in singles at a Grand Slam Championship or had moved into the top 100. Nobody had ever won a tour championship. Mirza accomplished all of this before 20, but controversies like her achievements surrounded her. Some people were also outraged by her marriage to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. Yet, despite the chaos, she remained motivated to succeed.