Come Tokyo 2020, Sania Mirza will become the first Indian female tennis player to feature in four Olympic Games. The 34-year-old qualified for the Tokyo Games, which begin on July 23, through her protected ranking of nine. She will be competing in the women’s doubles event with top-ranked Indian doubles player Ankita Raina.
A lot has happened since she narrowly missed out on a bronze medal, in the mixed doubles event with Rohan Bopanna, in Rio 2016. Mirza had to deal with a knee injury at the end of the 2017 season. She gave birth to baby boy Izhaan in September 2018.
Though Mirza made a winning comeback to the tour, by claiming the Hobart International title in 2020, the rest of her season was disrupted. The six-time major champion suffered another injury setback and the pandemic brought the tennis season to a shuddering halt in March.
The 34-year-old returned to the tour in March, at the Qatar Open. She has played 11 matches, and won six, going into Tokyo 2020. Here's a recap of her 2021 tennis season:
Playing her first tournament in more than a year, Mirza reached the semi-final of the WTA 500 event in the company of Andreja Klepac of Slovenia.
The duo was edged out 5-7, 6-2, 5-10 at the last-four stage by eventual champions Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs.
Mirza and Klepac scored an encouraging 6-1, 6-3 win over Saisai Zheng and Shelby Rogers in the opening round.
But they could not sustain the momentum and went down 3-6, 3-6 to Hayley Carter and Luisa Stefani in the next round.
The Indian reunited with American doubles star Bethanie Mattek-Sands, with whom she has won five WTA Tour titles, for the grasscourt season in UK.
But the pair was knocked out in the first round by Christina McHale and Sabrina Santamaria.
On her return to Wimbledon for the first time in four years, Mirza, in the company of Mattek-Sands, upset sixth seeds Desirae Krawczyk and Alexa Guarachi 7-5, 6-3 in the first round.
In the second round, they came across the tough team of Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Vesnina, who finished runners-up at the event. The Russian pair defeated Mirza and Mattek-Sands 6-4, 6-3.
In mixed doubles, she and Rohan Bopanna reached the round of 16. They went down 3-6, 6-3, 9-11 to 14th seeds Klepac and Jean-Julien Rojer.