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Sania Mirza goes live with Sunil Chhetri, calls Roger Federer 'a freak'

  • Tennis star Sania Mirza talked with Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri during an Instagram video chat.
  • The 33-year-old Sania spoke about her privilege of playing with Roger Federer, and a variety of other topics.
ANALYST
News
Modified 13 May 2020, 03:35 IST

Sania Mirza
Sania Mirza

In an Instagram live chat with Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri, Sania Mirza spoke about motherhood, her tennis journey, and the privilege of having played with a certain Roger Federer.

During her hour-long interaction with Chhetri, Sania Mirza was asked about her dream mixed doubles partner. The six-time doubles Grand Slam champion had no qualms in taking the name of the legendary Roger Federer.


"I have had the privilege of playing with Roger Federer," Sania said. "He is a freak, a genius. I had the best seat in the house that day."

Sania Mirza talks about her first comeback tournament

Sania Mirza poses with the 2020 Hobart title with doubles partner Nadiia Kichenov
Sania Mirza poses with the 2020 Hobart title with doubles partner Nadiia Kichenov

Sania Mirza, who had taken a two-year hiatus from the sport due to motherhood, made a dream comeback earlier this year. The Indian star combined with new partner Nadiia Kichenok to win the doubles title in her very first event, at Hobart.

In her chat with Chhetri, Sania spoke about about how she lost 26 kg in four months to get back in shape. Moreover, the fact that she had had a C-section during delivery meant that she could not work on her core for three months, which set her even further back.

"I did 2.5 hours of cardio every day to get back in shape," Sania said. "I had a C-section and couldn't do core exercises for three months. Cardio was the only option to lose weight. In my comeback, I didn't imagine in my wildest dreams that I would win my first tournament."

Sania Mirza further said that motherhood is probably the toughest thing in the world for a woman to experience. But she was determined to make a comeback to the sport that has given her name and fame, and the doubters who said she would never be back on the court gave her added motivation.

The fact that 2020 was supposed to an Olympic year - Sania hasn't yet won an Olympic medal - was another incentive.

"I felt I had enough tennis left in me. It was an Olympic year and I had never won an Olympic medal. When I started my weight loss journey (I had gained 23 kg) I was motivated by people who said I could never lose weight, leave alone coming back to the court."

Sania Mirza talks about her decision to swap singles for doubles

Sania Mirza poses with Martina Hingis after winning the 2015 Wimbledon doubles title
Sania Mirza poses with Martina Hingis after winning the 2015 Wimbledon doubles title

After turning pro in 2003 at the age of 16, Sania Mirza played singles for a full decade. One of the highlights during this period was a Wimbledon Centre Court match against Svetlana Kuznetsova, which the Indian lost 3-6 in the third.

Sania Mirza said that it was in 2013 that she decided to quit singles and focus solely on doubles. At that time she was ranked in the world's top 80, a rank no other Indian woman had ever achieved before. But Sania felt that her body was not allowing her to play at the level she desired.

She took to doubles, where the physical demands on the body are not as strenuous as in singles. The switch was worth it as Sania combined with Martina Hingis at 2015 Wimbledon to become the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam doubles title.

Sania Mirza said about that match:

"We were 2-5 down in the third and were struggling physically. Fortunately there was a break in play that allowed us to regain momentum. We broke back immediately and ended up winning the match."

When asked by Chhetri if she would swap her six Grand Slam titles for an extended singles career, Sania Mirza was prompt to respond in the negative:

"No. In doubles, I became the world's number one player. That is one of my proudest achievements on a tennis court."

Sania Mirza and that ferocious forehand

Sania Mirza
Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza was asked by Sunil Chhetri about her unique and ferocious forehand, which is not the traditional kind taught to kids growing up. The 33-year-old replied that her forehand is a result of her hypermobile joints, which act as both a limitation and a boon.

Sania had started her career with an extreme western grip. But on being advised by coaches that it had the potential to break her wrists, she changed her grip to semi-western.

"My joints are hypermobile that require an unconventional wrist position," Sania said. "A player whose joints are not hypermobile won't be able to hit my kind of forehand. My forehand is 60-70% natural and the rest is torque.
"I used to be have an extreme western grip. Coaches told me that it had the potential to break my wrists if not executed properly. And then I developed a semiwestern grip," she added.

Published 12 May 2020, 23:56 IST
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