The Indian Ace was preparing for various tennis tournaments before the pandemic disturbed the sporting calendar.
When there is a conversation about the Indian sporting greats, Sania Mirza’s name should be right at the top with other sporting legends from this land, mainly due to her illustrious career filled with accolades and her strong willpower. Sania Mirza, after a long maternal break, came back on the court and won a doubles title in her first tournament at the WTA Hobart International, partnering Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine. She then also inspired the Indian team to make it to the Fed Cup playoffs in Dubai for the first time in their history.
Despite all the positives, the current coronavirus pandemic which has stopped sporting activities in India for some time now and has thus hindered Mirza’s progress. The former World Number 1 in doubles and six-time Grand Slam winner feels there is a lack of motivation among athletes when the future is uncertain and they do not have a goal to look forward to.
The Hyderabadi tennis star spoke to Hindustan Times about the challenges of making another comeback and the threat of the tour restarting next month mainly after the Novak Djokovic fiasco at the Aidra Tour.
Sania Mirza feels that during this pandemic, it is tough for everyone and she feels that tennis is not her priority during these testing times. “It’s a tough time for everybody. I worked very hard to come back—not just to being fighting fit again to play but also to be able to compete and win at the highest level. So it was tough timing. But I think it’s a bit selfish to think only of that. We’re going through a pandemic, so we have to look at the larger picture. For me, tennis is not really a priority at this moment.”
The Indian tennis star was looking forward to winning some Grand Slams this year as she looked in great form during the Fed Cup. She asserts that it is difficult for an athlete when there is no goal set in front of them.
Sania Mirza revealed how she was getting back to her best to compete against the best in the Olympics. But now things are going to be tough for any athlete.
“It’s tough to find the motivation, because you actually don’t know when you’re going to return. So you don’t know what you’re working for. As tennis players or athletes, our life is so goal-oriented that we constantly are like, ‘okay we’re going to work towards this; we’re working towards coming back and winning this Grand Slam; going to the Olympics or whatever it may be. Everybody has their own set of goals. And I do believe that it is hard to put in the same amount of effort without having a goal; at least that’s how it is for me.”
“But nothing comes easy, and if you want to return to that level, you will have to figure out a way to find that motivation. So I try to keep it different every day. My trick is to train in different ways. I do think that you need to dig a little bit deep because all this training that you’re putting in, you don’t know when are you actually going to put it in use,” asserts Sania Mirza explaining how she keeps the motivation going even during this tough time.
With the world getting used to the new normal rules and regulation in a post COVID world, tennis will also bring in necessary changes to their regulations. The Padma Shri awardee feels that just like life even in Tennis it will be difficult at the start but people will get used to it with time.
“I’m trying to be an optimist and I hope that they find a vaccination soon. Initially though it may be a little different. But we’re all getting used to the ‘new normal’, right? So it’ll just take time to get used to the changes. That said, I hope that this won’t be the normal for too long and we don’t have to think twice before hugging—not only on the tennis court but just friends or people you love. Having no crowds will definitely be weird and different as well. But we just have to learn to adapt to the new things.”