“I still have a few more years of tennis left to compete at the top level,” said six-time Grand Slam winner Sania Mirza.
The 35-year-old champion tennis player, who will be making a record-breaking 53rd Grand Slam appearance for an Indian woman when she competes in the women’s doubles in the 2022 Australian Open, felt that tennis is physically a very demanding sport.
“After becoming a mother, it is more challenging. I put on more weight and therefore one needs to work even harder,” she said in a chat with The Hindu.
“Without fitness, it is very, very difficult to compete at the highest level,” the former World No. 1 in women’s doubles said.
In what will be her 15th Australian Open appearance, where she made her debut in 2005 and won the mixed doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi in 2009 and the women’s doubles title partnering Martina Hingis in 2016, Sania had the rare distinction of even being runner-up in mixed doubles on three more occasions with Bhupathi, Horia Tecau and Ivan Dodig.
Sania will be partnering with Nadiia Kichenok in women’s doubles and with Rajiv Ram in the mixed doubles event.
“However, it remains to be seen if Sania-Ram combine will make the cut for the mixed event or not,” said Imran Mirza, father-cum-coach, who is accompanying the star tennis player in Melbourne.
“It was a pretty good run-up to the Australian Open for Sania having entered the women’s doubles semis with Kichenok in the Adelaide International 2022 before losing to current World No. 1 women’s singles player Ashleigh Barty and her partner Storm Sanders,” he said.