Sania Mirza’s recently-released autobiography, Ace Against Odds, was released earlier this week, with the book co-written by Mirza’s coach and father Imran, and sports journalist ShivaniGupta. The book chronicles the Hyderabad-born ace's career from its earliest beginnings to the present day, going so far as to explore Mirza’s early childhood, a period of which was spent in the United States.
The autobiography goes not only into Sania Mirza the sportsperson, but the reasons for her being the person she is. Discussing how her father Imran and mother Naseema, who ran a printing business, moved to the United States of America to better the family’s fortunes – but the decision to move back to India would prove crucial for both family and athlete.
A riveting read, the book draws the reader in from the very beginning as it charts each of Mirza’s earliest ups and downs, taking on an almost storybook-esque quality in its narrative. The 29-year-old takes fans through the early part of her career, significantly her start in the singles. Mirza had started there with significant successes against some of the most established in the sport, including Svetlana Kuznetsova, whom Mirza fondly calls 'Kuzy', and her now-doubles partner Martina Hingis, who is widely considered one of the best singles players in the history of the sport.
It is in fact the Swiss legend who writes the introduction to the book, reminiscing about her first meeting with the player who would go on to become her partner.
A look into Mirza’s life shows readers just how arduous her struggles with injury have been – with the player recalling playing a number of matches on painkillers that did nothing to allay the injuries she had suffered.
Significantly, Mirza discusses her trials in the media. The sportswoman has been the centre of media cynosure since she burst onto India’s tennis scene, with the focus appearing to move away from her career to explore her clothing, her personality, her personal life and a series of other issues inconsequential to her sporting performances.
The book also chronicles her meetings with some of tennis’ other legendary figures – including one special incident the player recalls about meeting 22-time Grand Slam winner Steffi Graf on court. The incident, although not discussed at length, puts in perspective that Mirza, despite being a role model to many across the globe and a legendary figure in the eyes of many, feels just the same way about players herself.
Also briefly coached by Australian legend Tony Roche, Mirza fondly recalls the time she spent with the ace and his compatriot, sporting legend Rod Laver whilst training.
En route to becoming one of the best in the game, Mirza interacted with several players already ruling the roost.
She speaks briefly about her romance with, and eventual marriage to, Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, describing in detail how shrouded in secrecy the run-up to the wedding had been.
A detailed read into how exactly Mirza’s tryst with the sport began, it also does not spare the grisly details of Mirza’s lowest times. The tennis player describes a number of incidents that “ drove (me) to tears,” forcing the 29-year-old to stay confined to her room on several occasions. She describes at length considering giving up due to what she calls in the book a trial by media, with encouragement from Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi, who wrote the foreword to her book, instrumental in keeping the ace going.
A no-holds-barred account of Sania Mirza’s life, Ace Against the Odds is an interesting, riveting tome that holds the reader in until the end, with the dramatic ups and downs of Mirza’s life, career and everything in between are discussed in much the same fashion as the player lives her life – with complete openness and honesty.