Sania Mirza appeared to have chosen the ideal setting to cap off her successful Grand Slam career. Sania started her professional tennis career there in 2005, taking on the renowned Serena Williams.
Alongside Mahesh Bhupathi, the most accomplished female tennis player from India won her maiden Grand Slam championship at the Rod Laver Arena four years later.
Playing with Rohan Bopanna, who was her first playing partner 22 years ago, the 36-year-old retired from Grand Slam tennis on January 27 after losing in the Australian Open mixed-doubles final, Mirza made one final trip to Melbourne Park and advanced to the final set. Brazilian duo Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos defeated her and Bopanna 7-6 (7/2), 6-2.
The post-match presentation ceremony saw Mirza in tears.
“If I cry, these are happy tears. I don’t want to take away the moment from Matos-Stefani who deserved this. I’m still going to play a couple more tournaments but my career started in Melbourne in 2005 when I played Serena as an 18-year-old,” Sania said.
She played mixed doubles for the first time at 14, and it was Rohan Bopanna who became her partner. The pair won the national championship. According to the six-time Grand Slam winner, Sania could not imagine anyone else playing the final and capping off her career. She called Bopanna one of her best friends and partners.
“There’s no better place for me, or person for me, to finish my Grand Slam career,” she said.