Indian tennis legend Sania Mirza bid a tearful farewell to the Australian Open, her last Grand Slam appearance before her retirement next month.
The 36-year-old had qualified for the mixed doubles final with Rohan Bopanna but the unseeded pair lost 6-7(2), 2-6 to Brazils Luisa Stefani and Rafael Mataos in Friday's final at the Rod Laver Arena.
Sania will end her career with three women's doubles and three mixed doubles Grand Slam titles.
"My journey of professional tennis started in Melbourne in 2005, when I played Serena Williams in the third round as an 18-year-old," said Sania, who won the 2009 mixed doubles and the 2016 women's doubles title at the Australian Open.
"I’ve had the privilege to come back here again and again and win some tournaments here and play some finals amongst you all. Rod Laver Arena has really been special in my life. I couldn’t think of better arena to finish my Grand Slam career at. Thank you so much for making me feel at home here," she added.
Sania had announced earlier this month that she will retire from professional tennis at Dubai Tennis Championships, a WTA 1000 event, which begins on 19 February.
She has six major titles in doubles discipline -- three in women's doubles and as many as in mixed doubles -- with her maiden triumph coming in 2009 when she partnered Mahesh Bhupathi to clinch the Australian Open mixed doubles title.
Friday's final was the first time in five years that a Grand Slam final had Indian representation. Bopanna had made the Australian Open mixed doubles final with Hungary's Timea Babos in 2018 but ended on the losing side.