Sania Mirza ends professional tennis career with farewell outing in Hyderabad

The Sun has well and truly set on one of the golden eras in Indian tennis as Sania Mirza, the cynosure of millions, faded out of the playing arena to a heartwarming send-off in her hometown Hyderabad

Sania Mirza ends professional tennis career with farewell outing in Hyderabad

HYDERABAD: The Sun has well and truly set on one of the golden eras in Indian tennis as Sania Mirza, the cynosure of millions, faded out of the playing arena to a heartwarming send-off in her hometown Hyderabad on Sunday. The iconic tennis ace, who first captured everyone's imagination as a teen sensation, then as a poster pin-up girl and finally as India's Grand Slam winning tennis athlete played her farewell match in the presence of her fans, family, friends and sporting personalities to lay her magical racquet to rest and officially bring the curtains down on her glittering playing career.

A Hyderabadi by birth and at heart, Sania began her tennis journey over two decades ago. Having retired from tennis a few weeks ago and on a high with the Australian Open doubles final, she longed to play on her home turf and in front of her fans for one last time. And the magnanimous farewell outing on Sunday (March 5, 2023) saw the legend play a series of friendly matches with renowned tennis stars like Rohan Bopanna, Ivan Dodig, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Cara Black and Marion Bartoli.

The exhibition matches were attended by her family, dignitaries from the Central and State Governments, prominent personalities such as Union Minister Kiran Rijiju, Telangana Ministers K T Rama Rao (KTR) and Srinivas Goud, Former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin, Yuvraj Singh, Ananya Birla, Huma Qureshi, MC Stan, DGP Anjani Kumar, DQ Salman, Hyderabad Police Commissioner CV Anand, Jayesh Rajan, Sandeep Sultania, Avinash Gowarikar, Punit Malhotra, Diana Penty, Robin Uthappa, Rakshanda Khan, students of Sania Mirza Tennis Academy and tennis fans from all over the country.

Sania Mirza's last match was a fitting tribute to her incredible career. It was filled with entertainment, excitement and nostalgia as fans bid farewell to one of India's greatest tennis players. Sania may have retired from professional tennis but her legacy will continue to inspire future generations of tennis players in the country in the form of transitions to take on the role of a coach and mentor to budding tennis stars.

An emotional Sania Mirza said, "I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined in my career and I am grateful for every moment on the court. I have always wanted to play and express my gratitude by playing my last match in front of my home crowd in Hyderabad and I’m so thankful to the Government of Telangana for making this happen."

KT Rama Rao, Telangana Minister for IT and Urban Development, heaped praise on Sania in his own inimitable style. “In a country like India which was erstwhile known to be a male-dominated sporting society, Sania Mirza led the journey and paved the path for women across sports. She is an invincible force and inspiration to all the young girls of the country who aspire to make a career in sports and represent the nation.”

Authorities of the Telangana Government and State Sports Authority paid glowing tributes to Sania at the end of her glorious career: “It is an absolute pleasure and an honor to host Sania Mirza as she steps on the tennis court as a professional player one last time on home turf. While she has made every Indian proud on multiple occasions, her attachment to her home crowd at Hyderabad is incomparable. It is our endeavor to develop world-class sports infrastructure and foster young talent who go on and make the country proud following Sania’s legacy.”

Jalachari Ella, Head Corp Strategy, Bharat Biotech, in his remarks said: "Sania Mirza has had a positive influence on a whole generation of young athletes, especially young girls now aspiring to scale great heights in the sports of their choice. It was our privilege to be associated with Sania’s grand farewell. Having made India proud, this is a perfect send off to a fulfilling sporting career."

Srinivas Goud, Telangana Minister for Sports and Tourism, congratulated Sania Mirza on her splendid career and wished her best on the next phase of her life. "Her contribution to the Indian sports has been exemplary and she has been a torchbearer in the truest sense. Sania has set a strong foundation for women in sports and it was a visual treat for the crowds of Hyderabad to see her in action in her last match. I’m happy to be part of this momentous occasion and we will ensure that the event is a fitting tribute to her accomplished career."

Rohan Bopanna, Indian Tennis Player, and a long-time partner of Sania in doubles, was equally effusive in his compliments to his senior colleague. "Sania Mirza has been an exceptional athlete and a true ambassador of Indian tennis. It was a privilege for me to have played with her and won many tournaments for the country. Her contributions to Indian tennis have been immense and she has always been a great partner and friend. I wish her all the best and I am sure she will instill the high values she has demonstrated in her career to the next generation of Indian tennis."

Sania Mirza’s family too was not short of words despite the enormity of the moment. "As a family, we are extremely proud of Sania and everything she has achieved in her career. We are delighted that the city of Hyderabad will witness her last game before she hangs her boots. It is a perfect farewell for someone who has given so much to the sport and inspired so many young tennis players. Our support will always be with her and we are confident that she will continue make us proud," they said.

A post-match ceremony will be held at Trident, Hitec City, Hyderabad, from 7:30 pm on Sunday. The gala dinner will witness eminent personalities such as Allu Arjun, Ananya Birla, Mahesh Babu, Namrata Shirodkar, Nagarjuna, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and his actress-wife Sagarika Ghatge, ace music director AR Rahman, DQ Salman to name a few.

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