‘Happy tears’ as Sania Mirza bows out of Australian Open

Mirza played her last Grand Slam match where she and Bopanna lost the Australian Open mixed doubles final to Brazilian pair Stefani and Matos.

India's Sania Mirza
Mirza addresses the audience following her mixed doubles final loss at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia [Aaron Favila/AP Photo]

Indian tennis star Sania Mirza’s last Grand Slam match has ended with a loss in the Australian Open mixed doubles final.

The 36-year-old Mirza, India’s greatest women’s player, returned to Melbourne Park for one last hurrah and made it all the way to the decider on Friday.

However, she and her 42-year-old doubles partner Rohan Bopanna were unable to get over the line, losing 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 to Brazilian pair Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos.

Mirza was in tears during the post-match presentation ceremony.

“Disclaimer, if I cry it is happy tears,” Mirza said. “I don’t want to take away the moment from Matos-Stefani who have deserved this.”

Mirza first appeared at a Grand Slam tournament 18 years ago in Melbourne, when she was beaten by eventual 2005 champion Serena Williams in a third-round match.

“I’ve had the privilege to come back here again and again, and win some tournaments and play some great finals.

“Rohan was my first-ever mixed-doubles partner at [age] 14 and we won the nationals,” said Mirza, a six-time Grand Slam champion, three in women’s doubles and three in mixed.

“It was a long time ago, 22 years ago, and I couldn’t think of a better person – he’s one of my best friends and best partners – to finish my career here and to play the final.”

Mirza, who is married to former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik and has a young son Izhaan with him, said it was incredible to play in front of him in a major final.

Mirza was the first Indian to win a WTA singles title in 2005 in her hometown Hyderabad. She reached the fourth round of the US Open the same year and by 2007 was among the women’s top 30.

A wrist injury however forced her to concentrate on doubles, forging a partnership with Swiss great Martina Hingis which produced three Grand Slam titles.

She is due to retire from all tennis after a tournament next month in Dubai, where she has lived for more than 10 years and recently launched a tennis academy.

Source: News Agencies