The greatest female athlete from India, 36-year-old Mirza, made one final trip to Melbourne Park and advanced to the final on Friday.
She and her 42-year-old doubles partner Rohan Bopanna, however, were unable to cross the finish line and fell to Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos of Brazil 7-6 (7/2), 6-2.
During the post-match presentation ceremony, Mirza was in tears.
Disclaimer: If I weep, they will be joyful tears, Mirza stated. “I don’t want to steal Matos-moment Stefani’s away from them; they have earned it,”
In Melbourne, where she made her Grand Slam debut 18 years ago, Mirza was defeated by eventual 2005 champion Serena Williams in a third-round match.
“I’ve had the privilege to come back here again and again, and win some tournaments and play some great finals.“Rohan was my first-ever mixed-doubles partner at [age] 14 and we won the nationals,” said Mirza, a six-time Grand Slam champion, three in women’s doubles and three in mixed.
“It was a long time ago, 22 years ago, and I couldn’t think of a better person he’s one of my best friends and best partners to finish my career here and to play the final.
”Mirza, who is married to former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik and has a young son Izhaan with him, said it was incredible to play in front of him in a major final.
Mirza was the first Indian to win a WTA singles title in 2005 in her hometown Hyderabad. She reached the fourth round of the US Open the same year and by 2007 was among the women’s top 30.
A wrist injury however forced her to concentrate on doubles, forging a partnership with Swiss great Martina Hingis which produced three Grand Slam titles.
She is due to retire from all tennis after a tournament next month in Dubai, where she has lived for more than 10 years and recently launched a tennis academy.