Sania Mirza made a triumphant return to professional tennis by winning the Hobart International Doubles title, but the six-time Grand Slam winner admitted she wasn’t expecting the result. Mirza, returned to tennis after a two-year-hiatus having last played in 2018. Pregnancy kept her out of action before the tennis ace returned and aced the first tournament she played in.
“It’s something I did not expect totally, so to say, but I am excited to be able to do this in my first tournament on comeback,” Mirza told PTI.
“I honestly thought I would be a bit more rustier than I was. I was pleasantly surprised that I was not as rusty as I thought. But there are things I can improve upon and that is what make a champion. You always want to get better in what you are doing, no matter how well you do.”
Mirza partnered with Nadiia Kichenok and defeated the second-seed Chinese team of Shaui Peng and Shuai Zhang 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 21 minutes. It was Mirza’s 42nd WTA title and first since Brisbane International trophy in 2007 with American partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and the 33-year-old revealed there was nothing exceptional she did or trained ahead of the tournament.
“There is no key, I wish I knew, there was one key to winning. I just enjoyed my game. You have to work hard, play your game. I was playing with a new partner, new year after two-and-a-half years. There was no pressure and no expectations,” Mirza added.
“The first match was the only one when I felt a bit nervous because I did not know how my body will react and how I would play. That match was difficult but it set the tone and momentum. I was happy to come though that one and after that things kept getting better and better.”
Mirza explained how her body had changed post giving birth to son Izhaan but maintained she hadn’t made much alterations to her training.
“It does change. I was dealing with a calf injury, from last month and I aggravated a bit today. I am still icing it as we speak but it should not be serious,” she said.
“The body is a lot different now. It recovers different. But recovery (process) has not changed so much, it’s similar.” Asked if she could go for her shots as she was doing before the break, she said, “I was able to do enough, I can improve, no matter how I play.
“My serve was decent but I can improve. I the first match I was not serving that well and was not returning well on important points but by the time I was playing the final, I was doing both of those little better. It is a process, it does not happen overnight. It’s something will keep working on.”
Other tennis mothers such as Venus Williams, Victoria Azrenka and Evgeniya Rodina have also made dream comebacks to the sport and but Sania never sought advice from any of them and explained how she became partners with Kichenok of Ukraine.
“I did not speak to anyone but it is inspiring to see so many moms around, playing well in different sports.” Talking about her partner Kichenov, Sania said they joined forces through a common friend,” added Mirza.
“She plays backhand side and was available, so it just happened.” Sania will play the Australian Open mixed doubles with compatriot Rohan Bopnna after her original first-choice Rajeev Ram opted out due to health reasons.”