With “happy tears”, Indian tennis legend Sania Mirza on March 5, 2023 ended her path-breaking journey as a player at the place where it all began.
By playing in exhibition matches featuring Rohan Bopanna, Yuvraj Singh and her ‘best friend’ Bethanie Mettek Sands, Sania finally said goodbye to her illustrious career at the Lal Bahadur Tennis Stadium, the venue where she signalled her arrival on the big stage with a historic WTA singles title triumph nearly two decades ago.
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The exhibition games were watched by eminent personalities, including union law minister Kiren Rijiju and former India cricket team captain Mohammed Azharuddin.
Having arrived at the venue in a swanky red car, the 36-year-old Sania was greeted by cheering fans that also included prominent personalities.
Sania, who turned emotional while giving her farewell speech, said the greatest honour for her has been to play for the country for 20 years.
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On the occasion, the six-time Grand Slam winner (three in women’s doubles and as many in mixed doubles) played two mixed doubles exhibition matches and won both of them.
The venue, where she had won some memorable titles, wore a festive look with banners like ‘Celebrating The Legacy of Sania Mirza’ put up.
Some fans held placards that read ‘thank you for the memories’ and ‘we will miss you, Sania’.
Spectators, mostly school children, cheered her as she entered the court.
“I am so excited to play my last match in front of you all,” she said, speaking ahead of the match.
Rijiju, who was formerly the union sports minister, Telangana minister K T Rama Rao, Azharuddin and Yuvraj were among the guests present at the venue.
“I have come to Hyderabad for Sania Mirza’s send-off, her farewell match. I am delighted to see so many people turning up for this. Sania Mirza is an inspiration not just for Indian tennis but for India sports too,” said Rijiju.
“When I was the sports minister I used to be touch with Sania. I wish her all the very best for her future endeavours.” Her family members and friends were also present at the venue.
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