Visibly pleased and content with her 2021 season, ace tennis player Sania Mirza looked back on the incredible comeback journey she is spinning. In an interaction with the ANI, the 6-time Grand Slam champion candidly confessed about the trials and tribulations and challenges galore of juggling the roles of being a mother as well as a professional player. Mirza, at 34, is the mother of a 2-year-old Izhaan, and she has been advocating strongly against the forsaking of dreams in the pursuit of motherhood.
Sania Mirza, who recently finished as the runners-up at the Cleveland Championships along with partner Christina McHale and is currently slated to contest the quarters of the Luxembourg Open alongside Shuai Zhang after a dismal outing at the US Open 2021, also reflected on the year she has had so far and her plans for the next.
A firm believer in the fact that the 'sky is the limit', Sania Mirza admitted, "I think being a mother and a professional athlete is very challenging but extremely gratifying. It has taken me a lot of hard work to get into this position of competing at the highest level," the 34-year-old confessed.
Not one to get disheartened or demotivated at any point, Mirza's optimism has always been a shining point in her nearly two-decades old professional career. "I do not really care about the naysayers, but I want to tell young women out there who want to be mothers or are mothers that nothing can stop you if you put your mind to it," Mirza mentioned to the ANI.
The only trick to success in this field, according to Sania Mirza is hard work and dedication. "If you work hard, put in a lot of effort, the sky is the limit. Do not try to kill your own dream just because you have a baby. You can still follow your dream and be a great mother," Mirza reassured.
"I hope to pass the baton soon" - Sania Mirza
In 2021, the highlight event for Sania Mirza has been the Tokyo Olympics. Representing her nation for the fourth time at the quadrennial games, the semi-finalist from the Rio Mixed Doubles, paired up with India's No. 1 singles and doubles player, Ankita Raina. Although the usually successful pairing of Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina failed to surpass the hurdle of the Kichenok twins - Nadiia and Lyudmyla from Ukraine, it was no doubt a special affair joining forces with Raina.
Showering praises on her younger partner, Mirza said, "Ankita is someone who is better than all the girls who are there in the country. She is much better than them, she is competing in the WTA's on a regular basis, at least in the smaller events. She knows what she needs to do to make that next big jump. Let's hope she is going to make it sooner rather than later. She is a very disciplined girl, she works very hard. I think that is her biggest strength."
However with Ankita Raina being 28, the clock is also ticking fast for the ace Indian tennis star and Mirza addressed that as well. "But having said that, she (Raina) is 28 years old, let's hope she is going to make that big jump soon. She is an exciting tennis player and I am hoping the baton can be passed very very soon," suggesting the need for someone to fill in her shoes.
Coming to her own season personally, Sania is quite content as she has been on a good streak, reaching the quarters and the semi-finals and even, final stages of certain events. "I think 2021 has been good, I represented India in my fourth Olympics, I made the finals and semi-finals of tournaments. I have played only five or six tournaments this year so it has been good," the Cleveland Championships results having motivated her all the more.
Clearly, Mirza is still super enthusiastic about representing her country at the quadrennial event. "Olympics is always special, it is always unbelievable to represent your country and that is something I have been able to do for many many years and I feel extremely privileged and grateful to be able to do that," she said to the ANI.
Sania Mirza has all 4 Grand Slams on her mind in 2022
With the 2021 tennis season at its fag end with all the Grand Slams concluded, Sania Mirza is also looking ahead at 2022. Having gained a good momentum because of the tournaments she has been contesting in, Mirza is hungry for more and eager to play more frequently in 2022.
Managing Izhaan and still making time to compete at the highest level professionally is no joke but Sania Mirza, much like Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, has shown that it is not an impossible feat.
"Next year is a long way off but the plan is to play next year. This year I was able to play in only two Grand Slams and it has been difficult to travel and everything. Next year, I hope to have more momentum and play more weeks in the year and hopefully all the Grand Slams of course," said Mirza.
The 6-time Grand Slam champion who has been through the many highs and lows of life as a professional athlete also shared her thoughts on the raging issue of mental health that has gripped the tennis world ever since 4-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka spoke up about it. "Mental health is as important as physical health. I have been saying this all through my career. I cannot stress it enough, I am glad people are finally talking about it. It is not a taboo to have a mental breakdown or to have a mental issue," Mirza said.
However, few still understand the necessity of keeping mental health in check and Mirza feels that needs to change."Mental health needs to be given equal importance as much one gives to physical health. Especially as an athlete, we are under a lot of pressure on a day-to-day basis," Mirza stressed.
Quoting Osaka and speaking in support of the Japanese tennis star, Sania Mirza said, "When someone like Naomi Osaka takes a step and talks about it, the whole world is going to notice and I am glad that everyone is finally talking about it and there are more and more athletes coming out and talking about the kind of pressure they face. It is okay to not be okay," the Indian tennis ace reasserted.