For most of the last decade, Indian tennis has been desperately trying to answer the question, “Who is the next Sania Mirza?” Even when the hunt is underway, the woman herself is not even close. Mirza, 34, will be the first female to represent India at four Olympic Games when she competes in Tokyo 2020, scheduled to start on July 23rd.
“I had an amazing career,” Mirza told Olympics.com. “It’s just believing in yourself and believing in your abilities. I am 30 years old and I am still here! I really don’t think too much about it (how long I’m going to play). I take it day in and day out, I don’t really think too far into the future. ”
After giving birth to her first child, Ijaan, in 2018, Mirza made a spectacular comeback in January last year when she won the WTA international event in Hobart. It will have a busy summer, as it will be presented at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games, which are scheduled for one month.
“I did a lot of work in court,” she said. “But I also trained off the court. I did a lot of explosive movements and things for agility, just to stay sharp and powerful. “
The Indian ace started his season on the grass at the WTA race in Eastbourne this week and is looking forward to his fourth Olympics. Mirza, who teamed up with Rohan Bopana, had to settle for an agonizing fourth place in the Rio 2016 mixed doubles competition.
“It was one of the most devastating moments of my life when I came so close to winning a medal and I didn’t win it,” she said.
“Having said that, I really look forward to it. I like to represent India wherever I play, but especially the game for the country of the Olympic Games is a matter of pride for all athletes. I was told that if I played in Tokyo, I would compete in the most Olympics of any woman, teaming up with someone else. I am so grateful to be here and look forward to my next Olympics. “
Mirza will use his protected world ranking of 9 to enter the Olympics. However, this is the first time she will have a partner in the women’s doubles competition, who is also ranked in the top 100. Mirza, who teamed up with Sunita Rao in Beijing 2008, Rushmi Chakravarti in London 2012 and Prtana Tombare in Rio 2016 will play India’s highest-ranked pair (95) Ankita Raina.
“Ankita is a hard-working, sincere girl. She spent some time with me just before the Billy Jean King Cup, “said Mirza, who had also helped the Indian women’s team reach the Billy Jean King Cup playoffs for the first time.
“I first met her when she was about 14 or 15 years old. And she is very disciplined, which is her greatest strength. I have never been to the Olympics with a colleague from an Indian player who is in the top 100 in the world. It’s really good to play with someone who is on tour regularly. She has a long way to go. But at least she’s there, she plays every week and she kind of understands the level. “
Due to some concerns about injuries and the pandemic, Mirza has been playing a limited schedule since returning in 2020. She has played in only three events this year: the Qatar Open, the Dubai Open and the Eastbourne WTA.
“It was very challenging not to know what you were working for initially,” she said of the pandemic break.
“At least now we have a normal back. I was in India when the first block happened, and I have a tennis court at home, so I didn’t completely lose my game, and I had a lot of activities in general. It just took some motivation to get back to full training. “
Mirza is part of the growing breed of “Supermoms”, led by the legendary Serena Williams, of the WTA chain.
“I have really good support from my parents around me, sister, everything went very well,” she said. “Ijaan is a very loving, caring boy, he understands when I say I will train other things. He comes with me too. ”
After finding the perfect balance between personal life and work, the Indian ace hopes to reach new heights.