"I don't know when my son will see Shoaib again," says Sania Mirza
- In a recent interview, Sania Mirza said she is feeling the brunt of the lock-down at a deeply personal level.
- Sania has also done her bit to help those in need, as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to create a humanitarian crisis.
Sport, like everything else, has taken an unprecedented hit in the almost post-apocalyptic world that we live in these days. But for some players like tennis star Sania Mirza, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a more personal setback.
In an interview with Indian Express, India's Sania Mirza expressed her helplessness at being stuck in her home country while her husband, Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, remains back in Sialkot (Pakistan).
When the coronavirus-induced lockdown was imposed she had just come back from the US to Hyderabad with her son Izhaan. Shoaib meanwhile was playing in the PSL when a similar restriction was put in place in Pakistan.
The timing couldn't have been worse for the couple, who are now stranded in different countries. Explaining the situation, Sania said:
“So he got stuck in Pakistan, I got stuck here. That was very difficult to deal with because we have a small child. We don’t know when Izhaan will be able to see his father again."
Sania Mirza also went on to say that Shoaib is needed back home because of his mother, who is 65 and needs his care.
"We are both pretty positive and practical people. He has a mother who is over 65 and by herself, so he needs to be there. So in the end, it worked out best that he was there with her. We hope we are healthy and come out of this on the right side of it," she added.
Survival, not tennis, on Sania Mirza's mind
Sania Mirza had made a successful return to the tennis courts at the start of this year, winning the doubles title in Hobart with partner Nadiia Kichenok. But with a toddler and aged parents of her own at home, she isn't thinking about the game right now, but of coming out of this global crisis unscathed.
At the same time, the former No. 1 doubles player does worry about the athletes outside the top echelons, who have been left in the lurch due to the suspension of sports.
"For tennis, we have Grand Slams, other tournaments, so many things to look forward to. There are so many sports where they have only one or two things in a year. So it’s a huge, huge miss,” she said.
Sania's concerns go beyond the sporting realm. She said she can't stop thinking about the plight of migrant workers currently undertaking difficult journeys across the length and breadth of the country to return home.
Sania Mirza was the heartbreaking image of a child sleeping on a suitcase as her mother took him home, and like many others was extremely moved by it. She has been doing charity work over the last few weeks to help the underprivileged tide over the crisis.
"Fortunately, a lot of us are in a privileged position and are able to help. I personally have reacted by trying to help. We raised Rs 3.3 crore, if I am not wrong, in a period of three weeks with a movement called Youth Feed India. But our population is so large that it’s difficult to say what we all are doing is enough," she said.
Being pragmatic amidst anxiety
While anixety has hit the six-time Grand Slam winner, she remains pragmatic, and believes it is too risky for tennis to return in the current situation. Sania Mirza had actually traveled to the US to play in a tournament, but that was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Her priority right now is reuniting with her husband and for her son Izhaan to be in the physical presence of his father again. According to Sania Mirza, "no amount of video calls'' can replicate that.