Sania Mirza: Indian tennis doesn't have a system in place

While the ace tennis star lauded the progress made by women's tennis over the last few years, she highlighted the lack of a system as a reason for India not producing a tennis champion too often.

Sania Mirza: “I think tennis is a lot harder than a lot of other sport."   -  PTI

She has been on the professional circuit for 15 years but in all this time, there has been little or no challenge to her Prima Donna status in Indian tennis.

Sania Mirza may praise her compatriots' talent and hard work but no one has come close to taking over the reins of women's tennis in the country. And Sania believes that as much as hard work and talent count, the support and structure to groom them are equally important.

“We do not have a system in place. If a six-year-old wants to pick up a racket today, he or she doesn't know how to go about it. It's a guessing game, it's trial and error and that's why we have a champion every 20 years. If we had a system in place, we would maybe have a champion every two years,” she said in an interaction with Sportstar here on Tuesday.

Tennis harder than other sports

“I think tennis is a lot harder than a lot of other sports, not in terms of the hard work that goes into it but in terms of what all you need to click as a professional tennis player and be really good at it.

"You need to raise a lot of funds. I am not in any way trying to demean any other sport, just saying that tennis is too global a sport with 200 countries on the world stage every single day. There are 52 tournaments, one every week where you can play so you can think of the competition, especially coming from a place where there is no infrastructure for tennis,” she added.

The long career has meant a long list of injuries as well and sitting out the Australian Open with a dodgy knee has not been easy for the former World No. 1 doubles player. “I have had mixed emotions, to be honest. I actually didn't watch the Australian Open so much because it was making me very irritated. On the other hand, I was on my couch so I thought this was a bit better than being out there in 50 degrees!

“As athletes injuries and surgeries are something you get used to. But this time I was told that even if I get surgery, there was no guarantee it was going to be ok. If somebody gives me an 8-20 chance I would take it but if it is 50-50 I don't want to take that risk.

"Plus I have had surgery on that knee before also and know that once you go under the knife, that body part never remains the same,” she explained.

Enjoying down time

All praise for the Indian Fed Cup team for its recent performances, Sania nevertheless admitted there was an urgent need for someone to take the mantle forward.  “Women's tennis has improved a lot in the last 15-20 years and we don't want it to go back to what it was and die down,” she said.

As a brand ambassador for Max Bupa, Sania insisted it was something she believed in, given the current poor weather conditions and increase in pollution-related health issues. At the moment, however, she is happy being a 'WAG' and a 'housewife'.

“I am getting to be a housewife and learning the ropes of it, I am new to it! Both of us (she and Shoaib Malik) have been on the tour for too long. He made his debut when he was 19 and I did at 16 so it is nice to get a break and be a WAG for a while,” she laughed.