Sania Mirza prepares for a comeback in August

The ace tennis player has resumed training in earnest to be back among the best in the business.

Sania Mirza with her son Izhaan Mirza Malik and husband Shoaib Malik.   -  Special Arrangement

Six-time Grand Slam champion, Sania Mirza, is embarking on yet another comeback. For someone known to have that striking ability to fight against all odds, both on and off the court, 32-year-old Sania has started traning with all seriousness now, after being blessed with a baby boy.

In an exclusive interview with Sportstar from Dubai, the champion athlete shared a few thoughts on her career.

At this stage, how do you look at your tennis career?

Looking back, I feel very satisfied with everything I have achieved so far in my career. Of course, there is bound to be a stray niggle about missing out on an important title but that is a part of every sportsman’s life. Looking ahead, it will be a bonus for me to achieve whatever more I can in my career.

Realistically what can be the biggest challenges as you embark on yet another comeback?

As an Indian women’s tennis player, I again find myself in uncharted territory, trying to fight my way back to the top of the game after becoming a mother. I still have a long way to go before I can begin to compete.

Generally, it is said it takes time for someone to reach the standards they set for themselves after being into family. In your case, what kind of time span you set for yourself as far as tennis is concerned?

I hope to start competing by August this year if all goes well and then I’ll give myself a year to get back to the highest echelons of the game.

For an Indian tennis player, you have achieved many including six Grand Slam titles, the WTA Tour Finals title and many prestigious Awards. What brings you back to the tennis court?

As a sportsman one is never satisfied and the urge to compete stays with you. This is what motivates me.

Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza pose with the Australian Open trophy in 2016.   -  Getty Images

 

The seriousness of your comeback plans can be understood from the fact that you have hired a trainer for the practice sessions in Dubai. What will be the focus ?

Firstly, I have had to reduce considerable extra weight to get myself into shape. Then there is strengthening of the muscles that is the key apart from regaining stamina and speed.

By your own admission you have lost considerable body weight to hasten your comeback. How difficult was it for you to balance as a mother and a player?

Nothing comes easy and I have learnt over the years that in order to achieve, one has to really slog and sacrifice.

How do you look at the standard of women's tennis now compared to the last time you were competing?

Quite frankly, it is difficult for me to assess from a distance as I have not been on the circuit for over 18 months. I hear new names and I’m sure the level has gone up a few notches as the competition keeps getting more and more intense.

Given the nature of comebacks from a career-threatening wrist injury to the latest happy development back home, you feel confident of yet another typical Sania comeback in the world of tennis?

I am giving it everything I have got. It is difficult to make predictions in international tennis. I may or may not get back to the highest level but I do not want to regret when I retire that I did not give it my best shot.

How has been life with the entry of Izhaan into the family?

Izhaan has been a ‘game-changer’ and in fact, a ‘life-changer’ for our family by the grace of God and everything now revolves around him.

How difficult has it been to be a mother and a champion athlete meeting all the demands?

It is all about time management and prioritising one’s life and goals and so far it has worked out well.