Tennis ace Sania Mirza was in the Capital to launch her autobiography Ace Against Odds, on Friday. Although just 29, she thought she had a lot to share, so she decided to write the book.
“Well, as a tennis player I am not so young. I started playing in 2003, when I was 16. To say the least, I have had quite an entertaining life, both on and off the court. A lot has been written about me, right and wrong. There have been misunderstandings too. So I thought the book was necessary. I felt that if I didn’t write the book already, my book would be really fat! (laughs),” says Mirza, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the women’s doubles rankings.
What is that one of the several things written about her which stands out as good or bad? And the tennis star, who has bolstered India’s position in the professional tennis world, laments, “For me, the most painful thing is to be called unpatriotic. A lot of good things have been said, I feel privileged, but the most hurtful thing is that (being called unpatriotic).” However, she feels better equipped to deal with negativity now. “It’s lot easier to deal with when I am 29, than probably when I was 19... I’d have probably burst out in tears. Maturity has come with age. There are 1.2 bilion people in the country, we can’t expect all of them to talk sense. So, I give them the benefit of doubt, and even if one billion people love you, that’s enough.”
Often, reports of trouble in her marriage with Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik also crop up.
She says nonchalantly, “We are fine. When we got married, we had decided to continue doing what we were doing and as we were doing.. that’s what we have done in the past six years. It gets difficult sometime as we are in a long-distance relationship most of the time, but I guess you can’t get everything at the same time. But I tell you what, the telephone companies are very happy with us (laughs).”
Marriage hasn’t affected her career.
“I know of people who had to compromise, but in my case, he and I were very clear. And it hasn’t affected him or me. Then again, those are the choices you make... One day, I want to have kids, make rotis, et cetera, I am not against all that, why should I be, but right now, I am concentrating on tennis. I have no plans of retiring anytime soon.”
And what does it feel to be number one?
“It’s a great feeling to be number 1 in the world in something you have loved and dreamt of all your life. I am full of gratitude, happiness and satisfaction. It gives you confidence. I feel privileged.” But she has worked hard to be here and probably the others aren’t as good? “It’s not so simple I assure you.. I say I am privileged because so many professional players work hard but how many get to be number one?”
Is it also empowering?
“I feel one shouldn’t have to be no 1 in anything, to feel empowered. It should come from the surroundings and should be an everyday thing. For me, as a woman, it comes from the belief that you belong there, that you are equal, that all the opportunities available to anyone else in the world are for you too.”