India tennis star Sania Mirza, who is currently expecting her first child with husband, Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik, is eyeing a return to the sport after the birth of her child. Speaking in an interview to Gulf News, the 31-year old said she hopes to make a comeback to tennis by Olympics 2020 in Tokyo. “There’s an option of protective rankings where you protect your ranking and then try and come back… So you can freeze your rankings. I have done that. It’s a long way off. We are still in 2018 and my goal is obviously to try and come back to the 2020 Olympics,” Mirza said.
The winner of six Grand Slam doubles title added that she takes inspiration from other stars before her, including Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams, who have returned after pregnancy. “There are at least 20 mothers out there who are playing, which is incredible, including Kim Clijsters who’s come back and won grand slams after she’s had a child. Serena is the greatest tennis player we have, but even for her, it has not been easy. To be out of the game for a year and a half and then get back into the back to the same level isn’t easy. You can get back into the game, but to reach the same level takes time,” Mirza said.
On being questioned whether she could maintain a family and career life simultaneously after having a child, Mirza said she has never followed the “traditional women route” in her life. “I have not followed the ‘traditional women route’ in my life. I have always been the odd one out and I am glad that I was one. My parents have always supported all my decisions — so whether I was playing tennis in Hyderabad at a time when nobody dreamed of playing tennis or winning Wimbledon or marrying the person that I loved or having a child after eight years of our marriage — I have always lived life on my own terms,” she said.
“I want my child to be self-confident, self-sufficient and independent. While my child will be my number one priority, that does not mean I have to spend every single minute of the day with them to make them a good person or to parent them,” she added.
Mirza further said she and her husband understand the pressures that come with being a part of the sports fraternity. “There are days when we are both playing matches and he will have a great day, while I had a terrible one. I have to be happy for him, but I can’t be as I’m sad for myself. But he does not take that personally. It has happened to him too. Sport has taught us how to take victories and defeats. It has taught us how to bounce back. For us, sport is a way of life and we always believe that tomorrow’s always another day,” the 2015 Wimbledon doubles title winning star said.