NEW DELHI: Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza on Saturday thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his kind and inspiring words after the player bid an emotional adieu to the sport in her hometown of Hyderabad at the venue where it all started for her as a 16-year-old.
PM Modi in a letter to Mirza said that as India’s best tennis player, she had left an indelible mark on Indian sports, inspiring the coming generations of athletes.
“I would like to thank you Honorable Prime Minister @narendramodi Ji for such kind and inspiring words. I have always taken great pride in representing our country to the best of my ability and will continue to do whatever I can to make India proud. Thank you for your support,” tweeted Sania.
The Prime Minister in his letter further called the tennis legend India’s pride whose success has filled the hearts and minds of every Indian with utmost joy.
“Tennis lovers will find it difficult to fathom that you will not be playing professionally from now onwards. But, through your career as one of India’s best tennis players, you have left an indelible mark on Indian sports, inspiring the coming generation of athletes. When you announced a “Life Update” on 13th January, you wonderfully expressed your journey from a six-year-old who had to literally fight her way to the courts to a world-class tennis player in the subsequent years. You wrote about how your biggest honour has been winning medals for India. I can say that you are India’s pride, whose success has filled the hearts and minds of every Indian with utmost joy,” read the PM’s letter.
Recalling her success in Wimbledon as a junior player, PM Modi said that her early success showed she was going to be a force to reckon with.
“You gave the people of India much to cheer about. Your early success in Wimbledon as a junior player showed that you were going to be a force to reckon with. Likewise, your triumphs in subsequent Grand Slam tournaments, be it the Women’s Doubles or Mixed Doubles demonstrated your skill and passion for the game. That you won in so many Doubles events also shows your temperament towards teamwork, which is an essential learning of sports,” it read.
“Due to twists of fate, you had to cope with injuries, but these setbacks only strengthened your resolve and you overcame these challenges with flying colours,” it read further.
Mirza played her two exhibition tennis matches on Sunday at the Lal Bahadur Stadium, where she made her WTA event debut back in 2003. She was playing as a wild-card entry at Hyderabad Open. A year later, she won the doubles title at the very same event with South Africa’s Liezel Huber.
It was the first title of Sania’s 44 WTA titles, out of which 43 came in doubles competition and only one in singles. She also clinched six Grand Slam titles and made four appearances at the summer Olympics in a decorated career that lasted for two decades.
Sania had earlier retired from professional tennis after the Dubai Tennis Championships earlier this month.
Sania played two exhibition matches, featuring Indian men’s tennis player Rohan Bopanna, India’s 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup winning all-rounder Yuvraj Singh and American tennis player Bethanie Mettek Sands – her ‘best friend’ and former doubles partner. She emerged victorious in both of her matches to the joy and delight of an excited home crowd.
Sania Mirza is unquestionably India’s most accomplished female tennis player.
Her most recent doubles victory came in 2021 at the Ostrava Open in the Czech Republic when she teamed up with China’s Zhang Shuai.
The crowd featured plenty of youngsters and schoolchildren, who were cheering for her. The 36-year-old Sania was accompanied by her son Izhaan Mirza Malik and turned emotional on witnessing their reception.
Prominent personalities like former Union Sports Minister and current Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, former Indian cricket skipper Mohammed Azharuddin, movie star Dulquer Salmaan and popular rapper MC Stan also attended Sania Mirza’s farewell in Hyderabad. (ANI)