33-year-old Sania Mirza, a one-time star of Indian tennis and a well known WTA singles and doubles player is set to return to the court as a professional after taking two years away from the WTA tour and Grand Slams for maternity. The 33-year-old, who had a baby with her husband Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik in 2018, will be pairing with Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine in the women’s doubles tournament at WTA Hobart in January. She also plans to compete in Australian Open mixed doubles with Indian-American serve and volleyer Rajeev Ram.
Mirza’s focus in 2020 appears to be on competing for an Olympic medal as part of team India. Mirza has yet to medal in the Olympics despite having previous entries (including a semifinal in mixed doubles in the 2016 Olympics).
Mirza burst onto the scene in 2004 as one of the most promising young players on the WTA tour and the hope of Indian tennis fans everywhere. Her early career success in singles set records for Indian women’s tennis and in 2007 she reached a career high ranking of #27 in Singles. She also has captured one WTA singles title in her career, at a home tournament in India and reached the 4th round of the US Open in 2005.
A wrist injury and the demands of the WTA tour led to her specializing in doubles, where she excelled reached a career high of #1 in doubles. She has won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments in women’s doubles, along with the final in the one she did not win, the French Open. Mirza achieved the rare feat of winning both women’s and mixed doubles titles in three of the four Slams, as she’s only missing the Wimbledon mixed doubles title to compete a career Slam in mixed doubles.
Mirza’s best doubles partners were Martina Hingis, Mahesh Bhupathi, and Ivan Dodig. Now with two new pairings she’ll look to find form quickly in preparation for the Olympics and the rest of the WTA/Grand Slam season.
Comebacks on the WTA Tour are far more common than in men’s tennis, and doubles is the version of tennis that most favors more experienced players over the young guns, which bodes well for Mirza. The likes of Hingis, Justine Henin, and Kim Clijsters are just some of the names that have returned to tennis after some form of retirement, and now Sania Mirza will look to write the next chapter in her story.