Sania Mirza: Missed being part of Asian Games; hopefully, can come back to playing at a level that I was
Indian tennis star Sania Mirza says that she became a little nostalgic when the Jakarta Asian Games started, but adds that right now she’s “probably preparing” for her “biggest match” — expecting her first child.sports Updated: Sep 03, 2018 11:35 IST
Even when heavily pregnant, tennis star Sania Mirza can’t stay away from the court. She recently shared a video, in which she’s seen hitting a few balls in her signature style. “It’s very important to be active and healthy. I think being a public figure, I need to pass on this message that pregnancy is more empowering and it’s something that shouldn’t hold you back from doing what you love,” says the 31-year-old, whose first baby with her husband, Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, is due to be born in October. While she has missed being a part of the Jakarta Asian Games, which ended on September 2, Sania tells us that she’s probably prepping for her “biggest match” — motherhood — and that afterwards, she hopes to return to her peak fitness level as an athlete.
Given your Instagram post (on August 17, showing her Asiad medals), it seems you’ve missed being at the Asian Games?
I’ve been participating in the Asian Games since 2002. I was 15 when I won my first medal and now I am 31, so for me, going there became a part of my life and career. I’ve won eight medals at the Asian Games, and I feel when you win a medal for your country, there’s no greater [pride] than that. So, when [the Jakarta Asian Games] started, that day I felt a little nostalgic — I won’t lie... I felt a little sad. Having said that, you must accept certain events in life. Even on Instagram, I wrote that I’m probably preparing for the biggest match of my life. So, hopefully, I can come back to playing at the level where I was. Indeed, four years [before the next Asiad] is a long time.
Having said that, India has done great this time, especially in track and field and badminton. We’ve won a bunch of medals. That just shows that as a country, we’re moving forward, and that as athletes, we’re heading in the right direction.
Your tweet on India’s gold medallist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra’s handshake with Pakistan’s bronze winner Arshad Nadeem was touching. That has again got people talking, though you’ve clarified that your marriage has nothing to do with India-Pakistan relations...
When you see a picture like that in today’s time and age, that’s how you’d react. It can happen with any other photo. And I’ve always said that sport is great education — it teaches you how to deal with losses, victory, it teaches you equality, respect for each other... you don’t need to be a champion to learn all this. And as I said, we got married because we fell in love. Nobody gets married to improve a political situation; that’s not how life works. But because we come from two different countries, and given everything that’s there, people automatically started talking about that.
Talking about your love story, #BabyMirzaMalik was such an interesting way to announce that you’re expecting.
(Laughs softly) It’s not that we thought our baby would have both our surnames when we decided to have a child; this was something we always knew. We both feel that being partners in a relationship, you need to set examples like that. I never thought of changing my name; the discussion never even came up. We’re two different individuals who’ve earned a name for themselves in the world. So it’s only fair that I don’t let go of my roots and he doesn’t let go of his. That’s how you become equal partners in a relationship.
So, what’s life like? Are you getting any parenting advice?
It’s an incredible feeling. The love that I have for my child... it seems more than [for] anyone else in the world, and that’s when the child is not yet in the world. When I was playing tennis, I used to get advice from everywhere, even from those who had no idea about tennis. Now I get advice from every single person I meet: ‘Don’t sit like this, don’t eat that, don’t play tennis.’ And I’m like, ‘Guys, everybody reacts differently to pregnancy.’ Thank God, my mum understands. All my life I’ve been playing tennis and been physically active, so if I’m not active, I feel worse. Hence, I’m listening to my doctor the most.
You recently spoke of Shoaib being a hands-on father already.
Like every [pregnant] woman, probably I’ve had my share of mood swings and, unfortunately or fortunately, it only comes out on the husband. So you’re good with most people and suddenly you are like, ‘It’s because of you (the husband) I’m having this pain (laughs).’ But he has always been a patient guy and very supportive. Even though he is playing non-stop — he’s just back from the Caribbean (Premier League) and he’ll soon be off to play the Asia Cup — he’s making it a point to go through hectic travel schedules to be with me. At times, I feel guilty, but then I’m like, ‘Well I’m pregnant, so the least you could do is travel (laughs).’
How’s the family and ‘masi’ Anam Mirza prepping up?
She’s really excited. Anam has always been the baby of the family — we’re eight years apart. So she is like, ‘Now I’m going to have a baby.’ We were mentally and physically prepared, but right now it’s sort of the final stretch, so I think everybody is a little nervous. After all, it’s the first baby in the family.
Author tweets @Shreya_MJ
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First Published: Sep 03, 2018 11:35 IST