India's Mirza says Tokyo Olympics medal dream motivated her return


FILE PHOTO: Tennis - WTA Future Stars Masterclass With Sania Mirza and Neha Dhupia - Hyderabad, India - July 25 2017 India's number one tennis player Sania Mirza in action during the WTA Future Stars Masterclass Reuters Plus/ Krishnendu Halder

(Reuters) - India's Sania Mirza said the elusive dream of winning a medal at her fourth Olympics in Tokyo this year motivated her to return to the WTA circuit after a year-long gap.

Mirza, paired with Slovenian Andreja Klepac, reached the semi-finals in the women's doubles at the Qatar Open on Wednesday, her first tournament since Feb. 2020 when she played at the same Doha event.

The 34-year-old, who recovered from COVID-19 in January, said she wanted to avenge the defeat she suffered in the Olympic bronze medal play-off match in 2016 when she lost 6-1 7-5 in mixed doubles with partner Rohan Bopanna.

"The Tokyo Olympics was definitely one of the reasons (for my comeback)," six-time Grand Slam doubles champion Mirza said.

"We came really, really close to winning that medal last time (when) we lost the bronze medal match.

"I feel when I sort of close this chapter of my life... an Olympic medal is something that I would have loved to win. So I want to give myself another shot at it.

"Whether I can be or will I be able to? Time will tell, but that is something important to me and it was one of the motivations for me to come back."

Mirza, who became a mother in Oct. 2018, also said she is motivated to inspire women to chase their dreams.

"Women sort of think that once they have a baby, life is over, but it's not," she said.

"You don't have to crush your dreams because you have a child. You can still go after them."

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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