Tennis ace Sania Mirza on her recent visit to the city holds court on life, love and her game. Priyadarshini Paitandy reports
It’s a frenzied atmosphere at the Express Avenue Mall and the bouncers have quite a task trying to manage the crowd. “Are you from the media?” they ask as people cram around trying to catch a glimpse of the sporting icon. The photographers are on an over drive, each one wanting to capture the perfect shot of tennis star Sania Mirza.
She’s quite the diva and is now accustomed to all the attention. But when she started out did she dream of such fame and adulation? She laughs, “Everybody has a dream and wants to be famous. People who say ‘no’ are probably lying.”
Sania believes this has been a good year for her. “I won five doubles tournaments.” And does she miss playing singles; also was quitting from singles perhaps the toughest decision? “I do miss playing singles,” she replies, adding, “I had three injuries within six years and I had to recover from them. Playing both formats of the game, I was competing in around 10 matches a week. There comes a point when your body can’t take it anymore. After my third injury, I was faced with a tough choice that of either playing both formats of the game and quitting after one year, or giving up one and playing longer. I love tennis too much to just give it up after a year. That’s why I stopped playing singles. But I’ve been winning a lot in doubles and after all, winning is what we play for,” smiles the 27-year-old. As for critics who think her best days are over, her message is, “I have always replied to them with my racquet and that’s how I’ll continue to answer them.” She is now training for the Australian Open and hoping for another good year.
Sania was in the city to launch the special line of Rado’s Tennis watches. “I am a watch person. I have lost count of how many I have,” she says as she shows off her new watch.
Three years into her marriage and with all the travelling, do Sania and Shoaib (Malik) get to spend time together? “He is playing and so am I. As long as we are both playing, our career is our priority. Nothing’s changed really. We feel like we are still dating. We have our house in Dubai but I spend a lot of time in Hyderabad training at the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy. Both of us are travelling so we usually meet when we are on the road!”
Controversies, losses, ups and downs...what’s been the most difficult phase in her life? “Without doubt, the toughest phase was after my wrist surgery. I couldn’t even comb my hair or eat on my own. As a player you feel you are healthy and nothing can happen to you, and you are invincible, but you are not!” she signs off.