Away from the media glare and hustle of the tennis tour, Sania Mirza is at her base in Dubai and enjoying time with family. It is one of the rare occasions where Sania and cricketer husband Shoaib Malik are together with son Izhaan and even father and coach Imran Mirza.
This break is bittersweet because the former world no.1 doubles player was all set for a tantalizing partnership with former world no.1 Kim Clijsters for the US leg of the tour – bringing two moms together. But Clijsters injury hiatus has put a break on that giving Sania some more time off work.
“Yes, we both felt our games would complement each other’s and we could do well together. There is also a possibility that if we prove successful as a pair, women’s tennis could see a lot more mothers coming back into the game after parenthood. At some point in the future, at an appropriate time Kim and I could give it a shot again,” said Sania speaking exclusively to CNN News18.
In fact, it’s been a rather start-stop three years for her as she has tried to come back after injuries, pregnancy and now covid-induced tour disruption, during which she also contracted the virus.
Sania has played just two events this year and only six since the start of 2020. The comeback was looking decent too as she made the semis of one of the events played this year in Qatar with new partner Andreja Klepac of Slovenia.
This is the second time she aimed to get a run going and make her climb back into the top-10 of world doubles tennis after pregnancy. Last year she won her first title on comeback at Hobart, and played 3 more events before covid lockdowns shut down the world.
“Yes, it’s never easy when one is unable to get momentum but there are things beyond one’s control and one has to learn to deal with the cards one is dealt. As for coping with covid, I think the whole world is suffering during these traumatic times and compared to that, my problems are minuscule and insignificant,” Sania said.
The tennis star has a global perspective on the stress and loss of life and livelihoods the pandemic has caused, but the scare was as close as it gets for her too. Sania contracted Covid in January which soon turned into a full-blown family crisis.
Shoaib Malik too tested positive even as he was back home in Pakistan and to make matters worse, her son’s Izhaan’s nanny too contracted the virus a few days later.
In isolation, Sania was all alone in Dubai with no one to take care of her son except for some friends who too had covid scares. Sister Anam then drove to Bengaluru from Hyderabad and flew to Dubai to their rescue as Sania recovered and Anam moved into a hotel taking care of Izhaan.
This being an Olympics year, the goal is quite clear – get back up in the rankings and get as much match practise as possible. Father and coach Imran believes Sania is as fit as she has ever been but nothing matches actual match practice.
“Competing at the Olympics for the fourth consecutive time is definitely a priority. Besides doing well in the Grand Slams I would also like to improve my ranking quickly to be able to enter the major tournaments without my protected ranking,” said Sania.