Lockdown diaries: Netflix, son, social work keep Sania Mirza busy

Sania Mirza, who has just finished the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine on her return from US, has joined hands with Safa Society, a NGO, to help daily-wage workers.

India’s best-ever female tennis player reminds us that unfortunately it has taken a pandemic to make all realise that humanity is one.

India’s best-ever female tennis player reminds us that unfortunately it has taken a pandemic to make all realise that humanity is one.   -  Getty Images

Six-time Grand Slam title winner Sania Mirza is donning a different role these days – saviour to the needy when the world has been hit by the dreaded coronavirus pandemic.

The champion tennis player, who has just finished the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine on her return from US, has joined hands with Safa Society, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), to help daily-wage workers.

“Yes, first I donated to the NGO and then I felt it would be great to be involved in a collective effort for better results. And I am glad within one week we could raise ₹1.5 crore, which should take the minimum needs of about one lakh individuals,” the 33-year-old said in an exclusive chat with Sportstar on Monday.

“This is a crisis which reminded us that we take many things for granted. In life, when freedom is taken away, then you feel the importance of what really matters to you,” said a thoughtful Mirza.

“Life is obviously not the same for everyone across the world. I feel sad when I see the visuals of people walking 800km just to reach their homes safely and survive,” she said, adding: “So, we feel that a ₹500 package will take care a small family’s basic necessities for a week.”

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“Given the kind of responses and suggestions from across the country, it has been a really challenging task to identify the real beneficiaries, but we are taking utmost care that the needy are well and truly addressed,” Mirza said.

“Honestly, I feel proud to be associated with this initiative. In fact, let me remind you that my family (the Mirzas) in Hyderabad has been helping out the poor over the years by taking care of education fees and other basic amenities over the years. So, we deem it a moral and social obligation of giving back something to society. I really feel sorry for them,” Mirza said.

How is she spending her time? “Watching a lot of Netflix and I wonder whether will end up watching everything available on it by the end of this phase. Also, I have to keep my son busy the whole day so that he goes to bed early or else he is mostly stay wake till late in the night,” said the caring mother.

What is that she misses the most during this phase? “I don’t say that I miss this or that during these critical times. This is the time which makes one understand that no matter how rich, famous and poor you are, nothing takes precedence over health. There is nothing in life if you are not healthy,” said Mirza, adding: “This coronavirus has no discrimination as it is hitting all sections of society. This is a big reminder that your health and family are very important and all other things secondary.”

Referring to her training, Mirza said that like every athlete, she too misses it for obvious reasons. “I need a partner to train and there is no one around because of the lockdown. And the only time I am spending on the tennis court (adjacent to her home) is with my son Izhaan in the evenings.”

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“Definitely, I am conscious of staying fit and doing workouts for two hours daily. After all, I do believe that I have lot more tennis left in me and I will be eagerly waiting for the day when the world gets rid of this dreaded virus,” Mirza said with a big smile.

The difference between an injury break and this lockdown? “When injured, you are focused on getting back into rhythm for you know the problem and there is a solution and a time frame. Here you are fighting a deadly disease,” she said.

“This virus has made tennis, or for that matter any sport, irrelevant. Right now, given the grim scenario, I am not worried about events getting cancelled, be it Wimbledon, too. Tennis is a small part of our life (as tennis players). We are fighting a larger issue,” she said.

India’s best-ever female tennis player reminds us that unfortunately it has taken a pandemic to make all realise that humanity is one. “We are all fighting one common enemy without any barriers,” she said.

How does she look at the post-virus scenario? “I feel we as human beings adapt easily and hopefully will keep moving on,” Sania felt.

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“I am delighted to guide the Indian team to Fed Cup World Group, which we have never done before. I was very excited. That is one of the high points of my career. Well, even if I don’t play tennis again, this one moment which I love to cherish for a long, long time for sure,” she said.

“When I look back during this long break, I do feel that becoming world No. 1 (in women’s doubles) was the most memorable moment. It was one thing which every tennis player dreams to be and more importantly finishing two year endings as No. 1, which no other Indian has done, is something I am really proud off,” said Mirza.

“Come April 12, my memories go back to the day when I became the world No. 1 in 2015 and it was such a huge moment and which was possible because of the kind of sacrifices my parents (Imran and Nasima) and other family members made,” she said.

“For me, it has always been a roller-coaster journey and I am just praying to god the world be eradicated of this virus and normalcy returns at the earliest,” she signed off.

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