Sania Mirza to play last tournament in February

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Sania Mirza, India’s most successful female tennis player, has confirmed that she will play her last tournament in February at the WTA 1000 in Dubai. The 36-year-old had planned to retire at the end of 2022 but an elbow injury ended her season early and she didn’t want to finish her career off court.

“The plan is to try and retire in Dubai during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” Mirza told wtatennis.com.

“I was going to stop right after the WTA Finals [in 2022], because we were going to make the WTA Finals, but I tore my tendon in my elbow right before US Open so I had to pull out of everything. And honestly, the person that I am, I like to do things on my own terms. So I don’t want to be forced out by injury. So I’ve been training,” she added.

Mirza will also be playing at the Australian Open, the season’s first Grand Slam starting January 16. She is to partner Kazakhstan’s Anna Danilina, who will be her women’s doubles partner at Dubai as well. Reports suggest that she is set to play mixed doubles with fellow Indian Rohan Bopanna in what will be her final Major.

It was at last year’s Australian Open that Sania had announced her retirement plans as her body was wearing down and it was becoming harder to train, both physically and mentally. She reiterated that recently, saying, “I’m 36, and honestly my body is beat, that is the main reason for it. And I really don’t have the capacity in my mind to emotionally push that much anymore. I turned pro in 2003. Priorities change, and now my priority is not to push my body to the limit every single day.”

Before her latest injury in August, Sania was ranked 25th in doubles and was was on a good run with a doubles semifinals at the WTA 1000 event in Toronto. She had hoped to finish at the US Open or the WTA Finals, as she would have qualified for the season-ending top-eight event. But a painful elbow injury caused by a torn tendon meant that her return was uncertain. In an interaction in Mumbai, she had said even picking a water bottle was not possible without pain.

The 36-year-old is a former world No. 1 in doubles and had a career-best ranking of 27 in singles. She is also the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam, along with medals at Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. Her last Slam came at the 2016 Australian Open with Martina Hingis, with whom she formed one of the most successful pairs in women’s doubles.

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