Indian tennis star Sania Mirza said on Tuesday she isn’t sure about her retirement plans yet, with the elbow injury she sustained at the Canadian Open in August not healing as well as she had expected.
The 35-year-old, who has won three women’s doubles and as many mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, had said at the start of the year that the 2022 season will be the last of her professional career. But she was forced to miss the US Open due to the elbow injury. In her statement then, Mirza had only said that her retirement plans will change because of that, but it is yet not clear how.
Speaking in Mumbai at the player auction for the fourth edition of the Tennis Premier League, where she is the brand ambassador for the Bengaluru Spartans team, Mirza said she isn’t sure at the moment about which tournament she will compete in next.
“Honestly, it’s been slower than I would’ve liked (the injury recovery),” the Indian legend said.
“It’s almost been more than a month. Apparently, I didn’t realise but I’ve torn my tendon and it’s detached from the bone a little bit. So it’s very painful. Even today, after four and a half weeks, when I thought I should’ve started hitting balls by now, I’m still unable to pick up a water bottle without pain.”
She added: “So it does look like it’s going to take a few more weeks, I’ll do a few more tests and see how it is. That’s why I don’t know about my retirement plans or anything. I was hoping to play the US Open. Still being close to 20 in the world (rankings), I thought it would be nice to play a Grand Slam and finish. But I don’t know exactly when I’ll be better and then what I’ll play.”
Mirza had her best-ever run in mixed doubles at Wimbledon this year, when she reached the semifinals.
Reflecting on her association with the Tennis Premier League, Mirza said it is part of her endeavour to help tennis grow as a sport in India.
“Leander (Paes), Mahesh (Bhupathi), Rohan (Bopanna) and I set this bar of playing and winning Grand Slams for so many years, and we’ve all stopped or are almost stopping,” said Mirza.
“So it is time to pass the baton to other people and it is leagues like this that really help that happen. That is my only motive and association with it because for me, it is very important that tennis doesn’t go backwards and goes forward.
“Unfortunately when a big star retires, the sport takes a backseat and that is something we don’t want because we worked very hard to bring tennis where it is. So when this league came up to us and said this is what we are trying to achieve, it was a no-brainer to say yes to it… to be part of anything that is going to make tennis better and produce more players and champions.”
Mirza also said she is open to joining a tennis federation in order to give back to the sport.
“I already have my tennis academy which has been going on since the last eight years,” said Mirza. “As individuals, we all are trying to do our bit. Whether it is being part of such leagues or running academies, because as individuals there is only so much we can do. So if there is something else we can do, like coming into a federation or bigger organisation, I’ll be happy to help in whatever way.
“Honestly, I feel that the more kids play, the more popular the sport will get. It’s as simple as that. We were kind of losing that in the last four-five years, I can tell you based on my academy that that was happening, but we’re getting back to being a good academy with a lot of people,” the former doubles world No 1 added.