Sania Mirza not to play beyond 2022 season, says 'body is wearing down'

Sania Mirza, 35, will play her last in 2022 with grind of the tour taking a toll on her body with coronavirus pandemic also a factor.

Tanuj Lakhina January 19, 2022 14:21:21 IST
Sania Mirza not to play beyond 2022 season, says 'body is wearing down'

Sania Mirza said 2022 season will be her last on tour. AFP

Melbourne: Sania Mirza will not be playing beyond the 2022 season, she said after a first round defeat in women's doubles at the Australian Open. 35-year-old Mirza and her Ukrainian partner Nadiia Kichenok lost 4-6, 6-7 to Tamara Zidansek and Kaja Juvan in one hour and 37 minutes under extremely challenging conditions.

"There's a few reasons for it. It's not as simple as 'okay I'm not going to play'. I do feel my recovery is taking longer, I'm putting my 3-year-old son at risk by travelling so much with him, that's something I have to take into account. I think my body is wearing down. My knee was really hurting today and I'm not saying that's the reason we lost but I do think that it is taking time to recover as I'm getting older," she said after the contest on Court 5 at Melbourne Park.

"Also for me to find that motivation everyday to come out. The energy is not the same anymore. There are more days than there used to be where I don't feel like doing that. I've always said that I will play until I enjoy that grind, the process which I'm not sure I'm enjoying as much anymore."

I want to finish the season, to at least play until US Open. But I still have to take it week-to-week

"Having said that, I still want to play the season because I'm enjoying it enough to play the year. I've worked very hard to come back, get fit, lose the weight and try to set a good example for mothers, new mothers to follow their dreams as much as they can. Beyond this season, I don't feel my body doing it. It's beat."

Three-time women's doubles and mixed doubles Grand Slam winner, 68th ranked Mirza clarified she had taken the decision by end of last year. "I was very sure that this was going to be my last season when I started the year or even in December. Just the way my body is playing, I don't think I can finish the season. I want to play the full season, I'm still 50-60 in the world, I played nine tournaments last year. I do think I have the level to play, it's not about that. As an athlete, I think I can go deep into tournaments."

"I have a bit of a meniscus issue going on my right knee, woke up with wrist pain couple of days ago. At 35, I am waking up with couple of things that I don't know where they're coming from! I want to finish the season, to at least play until US Open, that is my goal. But I still have to take it week-to-week," she stated.

Playing her 14th Australian Open and spending 19th year as a professional on tour, Mirza and Kichenok found it tough to work around windy conditions. But the journey in Melbourne continues for Mirza in mixed doubles alongside Rajeev Ram. They take on the pairing of Belinda Bencic and Filip Polasek in the first round.

"If this is my last Grand Slam, it is a great way to go out to play with someone who I've known since I was 12 years old and we'll just try to have fun on the court."

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