India’s former doubles world number one Sania Mirza made a winning return to tennis on Tuesday at the Hobart International after more than two years on maternity leave.
The 33-year-old last played at the China Open in October 2017 before injuries and then the birth of son Izhaan in October 2018 meant an extended spell on the sidelines.
Mirza, who is married to the former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik, partnered Ukraine’s Nadiia Kichenok to a 2-6, 7-6 (7/3), 10-3 victory over Georgia’s Oksana Kalashnikova and Japan’s Miyu Kato in the doubles.
“Today was one of the most special days of my life to have my parents and my little baby boy with me in my first match after so long… and we WON our first round,” Mirza tweeted after her win. “Feel very grateful for the love I am receiving.. BELIEF!! Takes you places YES my baby boy, we did it.”
Mirza, regarded as her country’s greatest women’s tennis player, became the first Indian to win a WTA singles title in 2005.
She reached the fourth round of the US Open in the same year, and by 2007 was among the women’s top 30.
But a wrist injury caused her to concentrate on doubles, forging a partnership with Swiss great Martina Hingis which produced three Grand Slam titles.
She is due to partner American Rajeev Ram in the mixed doubles at the Australian Open next week.