View: Sania Mirza, destiny’s child who loved to defy the odds


Sania Mirza was yet to shed off the baby weight. She had Izhaan only a few weeks ago. Making it back to competitive tennis was light years away. With nothing left to prove, it was tough to imagine she would even attempt one final comeback.

But that’s Sania — destiny’s child who loved to defy the odds. Shedding 26 kgs in a matter of months, her comeback was for all mothers than simply for herself.

“Yes, it was a way of telling every woman that motherhood isn’t the end of anything,” Sania said. “Rather, it is just another step in a woman’s life and you don’t need to give up on anything as a mother if you don’t wish to.

“If I could make it back to competitive tennis within months, anyone could get back to work and do the things they love doing.”

Then came out the whipping fore hand. “If anyone felt they could body shame me, I am sorry I wasn’t the one to fall for it. I wanted to be a mother and thereafter wanted to shed off the weight to do what I wanted to do. Nothing else mattered to me.”

Sania is a story in herself. Young and successful, she has never been far from a controversy. Despite her stupendous achievements, it had taken time for people to accept that she is indeed brilliant at what she does. That she plays tennis like no other Indian woman has ever done before. That behind all the glamour was a hardcore professional who went under the knife multiple times to keep her career going. Not only did she dare to dream, she also dared to fulfil most of what she had dreamt of achieving.

Now that she has decided to call it a day at the end of the 2022 season, it is indeed time for a look back and to celebrate a career that is like no other.

Sania has won six Grand Slams. But in all her titles, the 2015 Wimbledon crown is what will forever define the Sania narrative. That win is her story in a nutshell, to win against all odds. First, she was going into the tournament as the world’s number one ranked doubles player, a feat no Indian has achieved before or after.

Second, the expectation was on Sania and her Swiss partner legendary Martina Hingis to justify their number one seeding, to prove that the phenomenal run they were enjoying can indeed continue at the Slams, and that the French Open defeat was an aberration.

Finally, this was the only Grand Slam Sania was missing.

And what added to the victory was the way it was achieved. It was a match that can hardly be bettered. Down a set, Sania and Martina won a hard-fought tie-break to level the contest a set apiece. Within minutes in the third set, however, they were a break down. And then they also failed to convert three break points. Many would have thought that the match might well have slipped out of their hands.

But, by the time Chair Umpire stopped play to bring in the roof, Sania and Martina had gone from 2-5 to 5-5. They won the match 5-7, 7-6, 7-5.

She calls it the biggest ever victory of her career. It meant the world to her. Winning at Wimbledon was always something she wanted to do and winning her first women’s doubles slam at Wimbledon was a dream come true for the Indian legend. And for Indian tennis, it was a milestone.

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi had turned a new leaf by winning one title after another at the turn of the millennium. Women’s tennis, however, never managed that giant leap. Sania was alone. She continues to be alone. But with the 2015 win, she had the Wimbledon title in her resume. She was champion at tennis’ biggest stage and that is good enough to ignite dreams of a generation of youngsters in India.

It is tough to imagine if India will have another Sania any time soon. Coming from where she has and to make it to the very top of her sport, it has been a career like no other. Sania was a trailblazer and will forever remain one in the annals of Indian sport.


Source: The Economic Times
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