Sania Mirza is a household name and one of the best tennis players India had produced. Former doubles world No. 1 has won six Grand Slam titles in her career. From 2003 until her retirement from singles in 2013, she was ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association as India’s No. 1 player. Despite all success in her career, one thing has eluded her, an Olympic medal. She came close in the 2016 Rio Olympics but finished 4th in mixed doubles.
For the majority of the last decade, Indian tennis fans are asking, ‘Who’s the next Sania Mirza?’ Even as the chase is on, Sania herself isn’t close to done. Mirza, 34, will turn into the first female athlete to represent India at four Olympics when she competes at Tokyo Olympics 2020, scheduled to start from July 23.
It’s just about believing in yourself: Sania Mirza
“I have had an amazing career,” said Mirza in an interview with Olympics.com. “It’s just about believing in yourself and believing in your abilities. I am in my 30s and I’m still here! I don’t really think too much about how long I will play. I take it day by day, I don’t really think too far into the future.”
“I have been doing a lot of on-court work,” she said. “But I have been training off-court as well. I have been doing a lot of explosive movements and agility stuff just to stay sharp and powerful.”
Sania started her grasscourt season at the WTA championship in Eastbourne this week and is looking forward to her fourth Olympics. Mirza, who had collaborated with Rohan Bopanna, needed to agree to a fourth-place finish in the mixed doubles championship at Rio 2016.
“It was one of the most devastating moments of my life to come that close to winning a medal and not win it,” she said.
“Having said that, I am really looking forward to it. I love representing India, everywhere I play, but especially playing for the country at the Olympics is a matter and pride for all the athletes. I was told if I do play in Tokyo I will have competed in the most number of Olympics by any woman, teaming up with someone else. I am ever so grateful for being here and look forward to my next Olympics.”
Ankita is a hard-working, sincere girl: Sania Mirza
Mirza will utilize her world ranking of 9 to enter the Olympics. This is the first time through, however, that she will have a partner in the women’s doubles who is ranked inside WTA 100. Mirza, who had partnered with Sunitha Rao in Beijing in 2008, Rushmi Chakravarthi in London in 2012, and Prarthana Thombare in Rio 2016, will play with India’s most elevated positioned player (95) Ankita Raina.
“Ankita is a hard-working, sincere girl. She spent some time with me right before the Billie Jean King Cup,” said Mirza, who had additionally helped the Indian women group to arrive at the Playoffs of the Billie Jean King Cup for the first time.
“The first time I met her she was maybe 14 or 15. And she’s very disciplined, which is her biggest strength. I have never gone into the Olympics with a fellow female Indian player who is top-100 in the world. It’s really good to play with someone who is on the tour on a regular basis. She has a long way to go. But at least she’s there, playing every week and kind of understand the level”. Because of some injury concerns and the pandemic, Mirza has played a restricted timetable since 2020. She has played on just three occasions this year they are Qatar Open, Dubai Open, and Eastbourne WTA.
“It was very challenging not knowing what you are working for initially,” she said of the break due to the pandemic.
“Now we at least have some sort of normal back. I was in India when the first lockdown happened, and I do have a tennis court at home so I didn’t completely lose touch playing also I had a lot of activity going on in general. It just took some motivation to get back to full-fledged training.”
The Supermom is ready to work hard for a victory
After giving birth to her child named Izhaan in 2018, Mirza made a winning comeback in January last year as she won the Hobart International WTA competition. She will have a bustling summer as she is set to perform in Wimbledon and the Olympics, which are scheduled within a month
Mirza is important for the developing variety of ‘Supermoms’, followed by the unbelievable Serena Williams, on the WTA championships.
“I have got really good support around me in my parents, sister, it’s all worked out very well,” she said. “Izhaan is a very loving, caring boy, he understands when I say I am going to practice and stuff. He comes with me as well.”
Having tracked down the ideal balance between fun and serious activities, the Indian ace is wanting to top new highs.