Sania Mirza: Shoaib and I’ve shortlisted names without a battle!

Expecting her first child, Sania Mirza shares her thoughts with Sportstar during an exclusive interaction.

"We are a very closely knit family and it is natural that they will be a source of guidance in some way or the other," says Sania Mirza.   -  Special Arrangement

Six-time Grand Slam winner and arguably India’s finest-ever women’s tennis player, Sania Mirza is all set to step into a ‘zone of her own’ when she attains motherhood later this month.

For someone who troubled the best in the business with her trademark, ferocious forehand returns, Sania, 31, has taken a break from the sport. Expecting her first child, the champion athlete shares her thoughts with Sportstar during an exclusive interaction on what she is going through right now.

On motherhood and how she is preparing for it

I think motherhood prepares one automatically and very naturally for the most important phase in a woman’s life. A lot has changed in the last few months and I know a lot more will change in the coming days, but most of it has happened without me making too much of a conscious effort.

Getting ready for sleepless nights and changing diapers...

I have already spent quite a few sleepless nights due to the discomforts I feel during the third trimester of pregnancy, though changing diapers may be a new chore which I am actually looking forward to!

India and Pakistan are both predominantly patriarchal societies. How will you and Shoaib share the burden of bringing up the child?

Firstly, neither Shoaib nor I look at bringing up a child as a burden. Yes, we both do come from patriarchal societies, but I think this depends on the attitude of individuals and from person to person and from family to family. The family is very important for both of us and we are looking forward, immensely, to sharing the chores associated with a new-born child.

Given the current social situation in the country, are you worried as an expectant mother about bringing up your child in such an environment?

At a time when we are all excited in the family to welcome a new member, I really haven’t given a thought to any kind of negativity.

Will there be a discussion between the two athlete parents to push the child towards one particular sport?

Neither of us believes in pushing a child to pursue any field as a career. The choice will entirely be the child’s own when the time is ripe. We hope to educate him or her in a manner which will ensure that he or she is in the best position to choose the right career.

How have you been spending the past few months? Has it been difficult staying away from the tennis court?

This is the first time in my life that I have been able to completely relax, with no pressures of a career in professional sport or of training or of worrying about following a strict diet among other things. Of course, there are times when I miss competing in tennis but I’ve always believed in embracing the changes that life keeps throwing up periodically and overall, it has been a wonderful experience.

Have you set yourself a time frame to get back to professional tennis or does that take a backseat now?

A comeback to professional tennis has constantly been at the back of my mind, but the timing will depend on a lot of factors, which I don’t want to focus on at this point.

Serena has made a remarkable return to tennis post her complicated pregnancy and child birth. Are you drawing inspiration from her story?

Serena is a legend, who has always been a trendsetter. Of course, she is a great inspiration to me and millions of other women.

Has she passed on some tips on motherhood to you? Djokovic is said to have passed on quite a few tips to Serena...

I haven’t met Serena since I learnt about my pregnancy but I’m sure she will have a lot to say when I do meet her.

In the subcontinent, a child in the family makes it a familial affair where everyone in the neighbourhood pitches in to raise the baby. Do you see that happening in your case?

I have grown up in an atmosphere of love and togetherness with my family and close friends. But as far as raising the baby is concerned, I think the parents need to bear the brunt of the entire process. It is a responsibility and a privilege.

Your parents’ role...

We are a very closely knit family and it is natural that they will be a source of guidance in some way or the other.

Has there been any specific advice from your doctors in terms of nutrition and exercise?

Yes, I have been following their advice on nutrition and exercise. I have been walking a lot regularly and have been practising yoga, on my doctor’s advice, as well.

Have you and Shoaib decided on a name or are you two still battling it out?

We have, mutually, shortlisted the names without a battle!