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"They asked when I'll become a mother, then asked whether I'll be able to play any more" — Sania Mirza
Indian tennis star Sania Mirza reflects upon her journey and proves her point of silencing her critics before the Tokyo Olympics.
India's bonafide queen of tennis Sania Mirza will take part in her fourth Olympics, which will be underway in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8. She would become the second Indian woman after Shiny Wilson to have attained the feat.
During Tokyo Olympics, Sania will be in the company of young Ankita Raina, with whom she will be competing in the women's doubles event beginning on July 24. A medal at the quadrennial event to befit Sania, who had missed out on silverware at the 2016 Rio Olympics by a whisker, when she and her mixed doubles partner Rohan Bopanna lost the bronze medal match.
It has been some journey for Mirza since the Rio Games after which she fought her way up, silencing her critics. In October 2017, a knee injury coerced her to take a long hiatus. In 2018, she and her husband Shoaib Malik welcomed their baby boy Izhaan. She made a thumping return to the tennis court in January last year by lifting the title at the Hobart International.
A calf injury during the Australian Open 2020 made her hit pause again, which was followed by a prolonged lockdown due to the COVID outbreak. She made her return in March this year and eventually made an entry into the Olympics through her protected rankings.
Reflecting upon her journey, the 34-year-old tennis star said "Before I became a mom, everybody asked when I would become a mom or if I could become a mom. And once I became a mom, people asked how I am going to lose my weight and play anymore. People were worried that I was becoming fat. As women, we are subjected to a lot of comments on our physical appearances. We also get a lot of unsolicited advice. Once we get married, we are asked whether our attention will get divided. It's women like us who stand up and prove them wrong," Sania said in an interview with Times Now.
There have been talks going on about whether Sania will be hanging up her racquet following her appearance at the Olympics, but she says she is yet to think about retirement. "I am not planning to call it quits. Being 34 in any other career is young, but for an athlete, it is not. I am a very realistic person. However, I need to be at my 100% to be playing tennis, I do not want to play tennis for the sake of playing tennis;" adds Sania.
The tennis player who had tested positive for COVID-19 in January this year is also hopeful about playing in the mixed doubles event of the Tokyo Olympics and waiting eagerly for the qualification update on her compatriot Rohan Bopanna, with whom she was last seen playing at the Wimbledon.