Hyderabad: Age is only a number. From being an obedient daughter to a devoted wife and to a doting mother, tennis sensation Sania Mirza has encompassed the gamut of all these roles with great felicity and sincerity. As a teen she was a sensation on the courts conquering various rivals.
Now at 34, she still possesses the same passion, power and confidence. Even after nearly two and half decades, the zeal and zest has not extinguished and she continues to make waves.
When Sania strides the courts at Tokyo, this will indeed be a moment of unique honour for the icon — for it will be her fourth Olympics, most by an Indian woman athlete. Sania used her protected rank of nine to enter with Ankita Raina.
Back from Wimbledon, the tennis diva was at the Filmnagar Centre courts here, practicing with Ankita, as part of the preparations for the forthcoming Games.
“If somebody had told me at the beginning of my career that I would play four Olympics, I would have probably laughed about it because it showed a lot of longevity and being at the top of the game. I’m honoured, of course. I feel proud to put myself in this position—four times—which happened over the years,’’ said Sania on Friday, adding “I feel it is special to compete in Olympics after becoming a mother.’’
Asked to compare her first appearance in Olympics in 2008 and now, Sania said the Beijing Games was at the beginning of her career and now she is right at the end. “A lot has happened. I’m going with a lot of experience. Last time (in the Rio Olympics) we almost won (with Rohan Bopanna in mixed doubles) the medal. It was heartbreaking. I’m looking at competing at the highest level. I’m glad I’m able to do that in the last few months.’’
Sania said she always gets excited whenever the National anthem is played. “As athletes, we always dream of doing something special for the country. I have been able to put myself in that position many times. By grace of God I was able to win medals. When the National anthem is playing it is a very special feeling and particularly standing on the podium. It is something which dreams are made of. Whenever we play in a team event it becomes a more special event.’’
The Hyderabadi star said everyone has to live with the Covid-19 pandemic. “It is a situation which we are all in and it has been difficult for the last two years. We have not much to do about it. Of course, it is challenging in many different ways. The Tokyo Olympics will be different now from the last three that I have played.’’
She further stated that she can’t take Wimbledon as preparation for the Olympics. “Wimbledon is a Grand Slam. That is separate. But it was good to get matches before the Olympics.’’
On her partner Ankita, Sania pointed out that she is playing well now.
“Everytime I played in the Olympics it was the best player of that time. Ankita is no different. She has been playing really well over the last couple of years. She has put herself in a good position compared to other girls. She has been good. It is good to play with someone who is close to 100 in the world rankings, which was never the case before. That is probably the biggest difference this time around in Olympics.’’
Mama Sania said it is never easy to leave her son Izhaan at home and play tournaments. ”As a working mother it is a challenge. He is a good boy. He plays with my sister and my mother. It is going to be ten days when I play in Tokyo. I hope he will be fine. ‘’
She signed off by saying that it was an amazing thought of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak to the Olympic-bound athletes. “It is motivational indeed.’’
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