Fresh from winning the doubles trophy at the recent French Open, tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi is aiming for another, far more important title — that of the world’s best father.
“Being a father is the most beautiful thing to happen to me, but to be the best father in the world is the biggest and the most challenging task,” he says, adding, “It’ll be bigger than winning any title.”
Today is an extra-special day for the tennis ace. For one: it’s his first Father’s Day as a father himself. And two: despite his busy schedule, he gets to celebrate it with his four-month-old daughter, Saira, in London.
“A daughter is very special and I’m thankful to God for granting my wish for a daughter,” he says, adding, “Saira is my biggest achievement so far.”
Profoundly inspired by his own dad, the tennis legend CK Krishna Bhupathi, Mahesh has always celebrated Father’s Day.
“My father is special. I always phone and wish him from wherever I am,” says Mahesh, and adds, “He means the world to me. He’s my hero, my inspiration. As a kid, I imbibed some very important lessons from him. He told me: Always treat others the way you want to be treated. And I’ve been following that advice religiously.”
Naturally, Mahesh will pass on what he’s learned from his own father to little Saira, though he insists he won’t make an issue of it.
“As we go along, Saira will chart her own path and pick up things on her own,” he explains, “but of course, as her parents, we (himself and wife Lara Dutta) will try to instill some basic values in her. I would certainly advise her to develop patience and a great work ethic.”
What does he hope Saira will grow up to be? A tennis star like himself, or a queen of the glamour world like her mother?
“I have been an interested, eager and obedient student to my dad,” said Mahesh. “But times are changing. I’ll let Saira do whatever she enjoys most.” He adds, “I am going to teach her tennis too. And I hope she doesn’t hate it.”