Sania Mirza: Comeback by January possible

The Indian tennis star is not ready to set result-oriented goals for herself as she gears up to make a comeback to competitive tennis.

Sania Mirza...“Whatever happens in life hereon in, regarding tennis, it will be just a plus.”   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

India’s Sania Mirza has said she has nothing to prove in her second stint at tennis, which is likely to begin by January, 2020.

Sania has been gearing up to make a comeback to competitive tennis after having taken a break to become a mother. The 32-year-old star has training hard for it.

Before her break, Sania had won six doubles Grand Slam titles — including three in mixed doubles — besides achieving the World No. 1 rank, and winning medals at multi-disciplinary events and the WTA Final title with Martina Hingis. “In my career, I have achieved everything which I could have dreamt of. And whatever happens next will be a bonus for me. I thought I will be able to comeback by August but probably by January, it looks like a possibility,” Sania told PTI.

‘Biggest blessing’

Having [son] Izhan is the biggest blessing I could have. If I am able to come back, it will be amazing. [My son] is my inspiration to get back to being fit. If I do comeback, it will not be to prove anything. The only reason to comeback would be that I love playing and competing,” she said.

But why the “if”? Has she not made up her mind?

“I say so because I still have to see how my body reacts. The picture will be clear in the next two months. I don’t want to compete when I am not ready. There is no point in coming back and getting injured,” Sania pointed out.

Not many tennis players have enjoyed success after motherhood. Only Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters have won a singles major after becoming mothers. In the current generation, only a few figure in the top-50 in the world rankings after having become mothers.

U.S. great Serena Williams remains a fierce competitor at No. 9. She had given birth to a daughter in 2017.

‘Inspiring’

Victoria Azarenka figures in the top-50 in both singles and doubles after giving birth to a baby boy. And Germany’s Tatjana Maria, ranked 100, is also a mother; she won a doubles title last year with Britain’s Heather Watson. “There is enough self motivation to come back but it’s nice to see people like Serena competing at Grand Slams after having a baby. It’s obviously very inspiring,” Sania said.

Sania revealed a past knee problem is still bothering her and that she needed more time to compete in the physically demanding pro-circuit. “I have been able to get back to being as strong as I was before, which is great. But I still have a bit of knee issue. It has not gone away completely. I had this knee injury even when before I got pregnant; that’s why I had stopped playing at the end of 2017. It’s not bad but still there, lingering,” she said.

Serena Williams, currently the World No. 9 player in singles, gave birth to a daughter in 2017. Photo: AP

 

However, Sania did not reveal what the injury was. “I don’t want to get into what problems I have with my knee but I had surgery on the knee before.”

Commenting on her training and results, Sania said, “I train about three-four hours a day in two sessions with fitness and with tennis it’s more than that. Initially, the focus was on losing weight but now it’s back to same rigorous sessions I was having before.”

‘Need time’

“I did not know how the body was going to react. You can’t actually anticipate after giving birth to a baby. I put on 23 [kilograms], I lost 26 kilos now. I am trying to become strong and to play at international level, I still need time,” she added.

Sania, who worked with her Australian trainer Robert for a few months in Dubai, said she will not set any result-oriented goals for herself. “There is no goal. Whatever happens in life hereon in, regarding tennis, it will be just a plus. Once I make that comeback, I will see where I stand as an athlete. Right now I just want to make a comeback,” she declared.

“Expectations are high as usual but I have not played tennis in the last two years. If I can make a comeback, Tokyo [Olympics] is something I am looking at,” Sania signed off.