Former Major champion Sania Mirza is ready to hit the court again, entering the Hobart International with Nadiia Kichenok in the third week of January, her first tournament since 2017. Sania will also compete in the mixed doubles at the Australian Open with Rajeev Ram, seeking the best possible form ahead of the rest of the season and after such a long break.
Sania gave birth to a son Izhaan in October 2018, making the first steps towards the return this year and deciding to test her skills again at the beginning of the next season. Former world no. 1 and the champion at three different Majors in both doubles and mixed doubles was the dominant figure on the Tour in 2015 and 2016 with Martina Hingis, splitting with the Swiss and starting to compete with various partners in 2017, winning the crown in Brisbane with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and reaching the latter stages in Sydney, Doha, Dubai and Miami with Barbora Strycova.
Together with Shuai Peng, Mirza was the semi-finalist at the US Open, Wuhan and Beijing, staying competitive in her final events before that break and pregnancy. At the age of 33, the injury-prone player wants to make the right steps and do her best to extend career and play on a high level again.
Working hard on her physical shape, Sania hopes to secure the place at her fourth Olympic Games in Tokyo, highlighting that event as the primary goal for 2020, together with staying healthy after many setbacks in the past.
"I could have easily hung up my boots and enjoyed my life but I choosed to play the game for three hours under the sun like I did today," said Mirza. "I am enjoying my grind, glad to put myself back in this kind of position and be able to compete - something to be very proud of.
I still felt that I have a lot more tennis left in me. Passion for the sport is what drives me to a tennis court, although it wasn't easy to make another return after having a baby and everything. After achieving so much as an athlete, getting married, blessed with a boy, I wanted to show that you can still follow your dream.
The Tokyo Olympics is at the back of my mind as the top priority for 2020; it would be great to embrace the fourth Olympic tournament. Still, that is not my immediate goal; I have to see how my body reacts, behaves after match-play. The first target is to be healthy, not winning or losing."