Indian tennis legend Sania Mirza has announced her intention to return to the WTA Tour, two years after taking a break to have a baby.
The 33-year-old, whose son Izhaan in October 2018, is set for a return in the doubles arena and will play along with Ukraine’s Nadiia Kichenok, who is ranked WTA World No.38 in that discipline, at the Hobert International and will then play in the Australian Open.
Her last competitive outing came at the 2017 China Open, where she and Peng Shuai reached the semifinals before being defeated by top seeds Latisha Chan and Martina Hingis.
Speaking to the media, she confirmed: “I am playing in Hobart, then I am playing the Australian Open. I’m planning to play a tournament in Mumbai, which is a $25k ITF event next month, but I am 50-50 about it. Let’s see how my wrist behaves. We’ll see, but Hobart and the Australian Open for sure.”
Mirza has won six Grand Slam titles in doubles – three women’s and three mixed – and says that she is back to the shape she was in before giving birth.
“There are a lot of changes when you have a baby,” she explained. “Your routine and sleep patterns change. I feel fit, my body is where it used to be before I had the baby. It was only six or seven months ago that I though about returning as a realistic possibility.”
Although she has suffered some issues along her road to fitness, she has set her sights on the Olympics as a medium-term target.
“Three months ago, I got this virus Chikangunya, that was a setback because for two weeks I was sick,” she said. “I have left wrist pain out of the blue because of this virus and it can last three months to a year. All and all I feel good, and today I can tell you that I’m ready to compete again.
“Of course, it will take me time to get to the level that I was playing at before, but it’s a good start for me to feel good physically.”
Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020, she added: “I’ve been to the Olympics three times and last time we were unlucky not to win a medal. If I’m able to put myself in that position to be able to compete at the Olympics again for the fourth time in my life, I’d be really honoured and privileged. But I’ve got three slams before the Olympics and for me it’s week to week and day to day.”
Mirza is a former WTA World No.1 in doubles, while in 2005 she became the first Indian to win a singles WTA Tour title, picking up the crown in Hyderabad, her hometown event.