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To be at Olympics after having a baby is something I could have only dreamt of: Sania Mirza | Tennis News – Times of India

June 27, 2021

It has been a challenging grass-court season so far for Sania Mirza. The season has been reduced to two weeks from the usual three, and visa issues for her son Izhaan meant she had to skip one of the grass events on her schedule.
Yet, for all that, it is the Tokyo Games next month that is the primary goal of the season for the 34-year-old.
In an exclusive interview with The Times of India, Mirza shares her thoughts on returning to Wimbledon after 2017, Ankita Raina as her partner, and where India’s best chance of a tennis medal at the Games lies.
Q: Wimbledon has special significance for you. But the grass schedule has been affected. How good is your preparation, and whom are you partnering?
SM: It is something I cannot control. I am playing with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and really looking forward to playing another year at Wimbledon. I have had some amazing memories here, so excited to be back.
Q: Apart from longevity and sustained class, what does the fourth Olympics mean to you?
SM: Olympics means everything to every athlete. It is something that we dream of as young aspiring to be the best in the world, as the best in the country one day we aspire to represent our country. I have been fortunate enough to play three times at the Olympics and this will be my fourth. To be able to do this after having a baby is something I could have only dreamt off. I am really, really excited about it.
Q: The circumstances in which confirmation of your entry has come, you being away from your dear ones, does it take anything away from the joy and excitement?
SM: Look, the situation is such that we are under some extreme circumstance that we are not able to control. Nothing takes away from the happiness and gratitude I feel to be able to compete at another Olympics. Yes, it is tough to be away from a young toddler, but these are what our dreams are made of.
Q: Can you talk about Ankita as your partner? What has been the conversation between you two about the Olympics?
SM: I have seen her from a very young age. She is someone who always has a lot of questions, always curious to learn. She is very discipline, that is probably one of her biggest strengths.
In the previous Olympics in women’s doubles, I have not gone with someone who has been kind of a constancy on the WTA Tour. She has in the last one year played a little bit on the WTA Tour, been close to top 100 (in doubles ranking) in the world. I know she will be feeling excited about playing in her first Olympics.
Obviously, she still needs a lot more experience at the highest level. But it is good to go at least with someone who is part of the Tour on a daily basis and understands the level. We are going in with an outside chance.
We won’t be playing any tournaments before the Olympics. Unfortunately, the way the ranking system works, it won’t be possible. We will be practising together for a week.
Q: This is probably going to be an all-women Indian tennis team. Given the long road you have travelled, what do you make of this?
SM: I don’t think we are sure about that yet. We are still waiting on the cut for the guys. It will be a shame if Divij (Sharan) and Rohan (Bopanna) don’t make it after being so close. I hope they make it.
I for one have been top-10 in the world for a long time and have been able to choose a partner in the last three Olympics. It is the same this time as well. We have gotten in because of my top-10 Protected Ranking (No. 9 as of October 2017).
Q: Each Olympics you have played has had its share of obstacles, quite a few of them off-court. Is there a feeling that you have been hampered during your best years for reasons beyond you? Does that fire you up even more this time?
SM: I always try to control what I can. I can’t really comment or do anything that I am not in control of. It is the same thing with issues that have happened during the past Olympics. This time around obviously it’s been quite quiet, which is refreshing. But every time I stepped on the court, I have been fired up, especially more so at the Olympics. I am looking forward to it this time as much as last time and the time before.
Q: Can you throw some light on the Games rule book regarding Covid restrictions?
SM: With these Covid restrictions, it changes every day. We keep getting a lot of emails. I am just gonna go along with whatever is said to be done. I am in touch with our sports minister as well.
I just hope that everybody gets as fair a chance as possible. I hope we are able to practise even if we have to quarantine for those 2-3 days. It will be unfair if we don’t get to practice and then compete.
Q: There is still some time for the Games. How do you see your chances of winning a medal?
SM: Honestly, every time we went into Olympics, our best shot was at mixed doubles. That’s how me and Rohan came close last time as well. Hopefully Rohan and Divij do get in, and if all goes well, we are in with a shot. As far as women’s doubles goes, I think we all know that we are not favourites to win a medal, but anything is possible at the Olympics. Ankita and me have both been able to bring our best while playing for the country, we are going to give our all and leave the rest to destiny.

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