Sania Mirza

Up Close & Personal

By Tashi Narula

 Excerpts from an interview with the tennis ace 

·        What did you actually want to become when you were a child?

I wanted to become a doctor at one point actually, because one of my first cousins was in the process of becoming a doctor and she was about 8 years older to me and I was very close to her. I was also very geeky so you know it was probably the best option; I like studying. But then that didn’t last long obviously because I started loving tennis more as I kept growing older; I loved competing and the feeling of winning. So yeah, one thing led to the other; it wasn’t like we sat and decided “this is going to happen and we’re going to do this”. It just happened.

·        What attracted you towards Shoaib?

We all go through our relationships and you get to know what you like and don’t like in a person. Shoaib is extremely different from me. We’re probably opposites in that sense.

·        Yes, opposites do attract…

(Laughs) I don’t know. But we did. I’m a Scorpian and he’s a Piscean. We met in Australia we hit it off; I’d known him from before and we’d been friends socially for a while. I mean he’s achieved a lot in his life and in his career. He’s been a captain as well and is a very simple person. So yeah that’s a very good quality.

·        Has marriage and motherhood changed you as a person?

No I don’t think marriage has, but age has and everything else that I’ve experienced. I think marriage is a part of growing up. But it’s not like that’s defined who I am and I think nothing has defined who I am; it’s my experiences that count in the end. I obviously react to situations differently in my 30s as compared to when I was 18 years old, which is normal because experience teaches you that. But marriage does teach you tolerance and compromise and things like that.  The birth of my son Izhaan( Mirza-Malik has definitely touched and enriched my  life in an amazing kind of way. I feel so complete and fulfilled  and extremely grateful to God

I want to be the perfect mother to my son.Once you become a mother, the child becomes the most important part of one’s life and that’s what makes mothers so special.

·        Do you have regular husband and wife fights?

Yes. Doesn’t everyone?

·        Who is the first one to compromise?

It depends, but usually I’m not the first one. I don’t mean in the case of compromise, but he’s milder; he’s a softer person than me. I get angry very fast and I forget it very fast too. But when he gets angry, it stays for a long time. So that’s the difference between us. But he doesn’t get angry as often as I do (laughs). I think that’s typical between men and women though.

·        Do you try to change him?

No. I don’t need to. I don’t believe that I should change him and he doesn’t believe that he should change me.

·        How does it feel when someone questions your Indian-ness and your roots?

It obviously doesn’t feel good. I mean would you like to be questioned about your identity every time? Of course not. And not just questioned, but questioned on a national and international platform. You wouldn’t want that anyway, but on top of everything I compete and play for the country so it hurts even more at that point.

·        How do you react to criticism in general from the media and people?

I don’t react. I think that when you’re on a public platform it’s very difficult and you can’t react to everything. It’s not just criticism; I also can’t react to every bit of praise, because I know that everything doesn’t last. You have to try and keep your head on your shoulders and as long as you believe that what you’re doing is correct and that your work ethic is right, you know you can do it. Also, when it comes to our so-called tennis critics, I don’t know how many international matches they’ve gone and seen live. I don’t know what gives them the authority to become critics but we come from a part of the world where for some reason everyone feels that they are extremely knowledgeable about everything that they can’t do. If they were good enough, they probably would have been playing and I would be sitting. That’s just the way of life; you’ve got to take everything with a pinch of salt – the praise and the criticism.

·        You started Sania Mirza Academy. How is it different from other academies?

Well first of all, it’s got my family and my experience in it. It’s the biggest academy in the country and probably in the subcontinent as well. I don’t think that there are many such academies –it’s got 12 tennis courts, a pool, a gym, and a clubhouse. We have 12 coaches. It’s a very international standard academy so we have international coaches coming, international trainers coming and helping the kids. It’s going really well and it’s got the best tennis courts that you’ll find in the world; the same courts as the Australian Open – so definitely all these facilities set it apart from the rest.

·        Does your husband support you?

Yes, he does. I mean when it comes to our professional lives we live very separate ones. He plays his sport, I play mine and we support each other from the side-lines but we don’t interfere. Because I don’t know much about cricket and he doesn’t know much about tennis! (laughs).

·        Does he watch your matches?

Yeah, he watches when he can and I watch his; it’s a bit tough with the time differences, but when I can, I do. I think we’ve dealt with these so-called critics enough to know that we both don’t need to tell each other about our own sport without knowing that much. So yeah sometime we work out together and stuff so our workouts are similar.

·        What has been the most memorable moment of your life?

There’s no most. I think there are way too many memorable moments in my life, but I think one of the most memorable ones was when I won my first tournament in Hyderabad in front of the home crowd. To win it was like a fairy tale for me you know; to be in that tournament with a packed house and 10,000 people. With the whole country watching and to win that tournament in the final; that moment still brings goose bumps to me because I was 17 or 18 years old and you know for me to win such a big event in my hometown and the city I grew up in was extremely special to me.

·        Did you meet any obsessive fans?

Yeah lots. There are a lot of weird people in this country. There was this one guy; he tried to break into the house. I wasn’t even in the country; I was in Australia. He stole my sister’s phone and ran way. I think he was drunk or I don’t know what, but he dropped his BCom certificate or something with a stack full of my pictures. So we had his address and everything so we could’ve gone there and tracked him down. And he said “No no I just love her”. When I called from Australia, he had my sister’s phone so I called my sister and this random guy answered the phone and I got so scared. In the span of 10 seconds I had about a hundred thoughts in my mind. This was 10 years ago and my sister was really young. He did answer and he was drunk. So he was not making sense. Then my mom called. She was in another part of the world and she called that phone. This guy answered and my mom started crying. I mean it was a nightmare. And then finally they found him and caught him. For years he used to come to the airport and say “Sania”, hand me something and then walk away. And by the time I even reacted the guy was gone. (laughs) Besides stealing, he was pretty harmless. He didn’t try to kill me or anything.

·        Do you have any unrealised dream?

God has given me a lot in my life. Much more than I even asked for. So it’s tough for me to be ungrateful and say that. Yeah definitely I still have ambitions in tennis and hopefully I can become number one before I retire, but if I don’t it’s definitely not going to be the biggest tragedy of my life.

·        Do you have to say anything to our readers?

I’d like to say especially for women: you have to believe that you’re the best and that you’re equal. And you have to believe that you can achieve what you dream of doing and do what you love.


Fitness regime

It depends. It varies from day to day. Like today I’ll go to the gym; I’m not going to practice but I’ll go work out. So you know, there’s everything; there’s agility, there’s strength, muscle building, there’s speed. So it depends on which day what but everything including my tennis and all lasts about 5-6 hours a day.

Favorite make-up brand

I usually use MakeUpForEver. I also use Chanel. Those are the brands that suit my face; I have very sensitive skin so I have to take care of it. I mostly use these brands and sometimes I use M.A.C. lipsticks.

Beauty food

Well actually beauty food not so much; I do it more for my fitness. Not so much for my face.

Are you a foodie otherwise?

Yes, a big one. I eat everything actually. I believe in moderation in my life. Even in food I believe in moderation. As long as I know that I’m working it out, I can eat. Of course I won’t eat a cake every day or something, but if I feel like eating once in a while I will.

Are you a gadget freak?

Yes. Well not really a freak but I like gadgets; I have most of the latest things

Favourite perfume?

Actually my problem is that when I start using a perfume, I use only that perfume. For like a really long time. So right now I’m using Jadore and before that I used to use a Calvin Klein perfume which was Euphoria. So I used Euphoria for like four years of my life and now I’ve been using Jadore for the last one-and-a-half, two years. I also use Opium; they have the brown bottle. So yeah I use that one as well.

Photo Courtesy- Shazid Chauhan

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