Bold & Bountiful - Sania Mirza

A conversation with the ‘Wimbledon Woman’ of Young India, Sania Mirza, is just about luck that has aced. Well, defining success in her terms is overcoming all challenges with the ‘yes I can’ attitude and being positive. She believes that endings are always good; and if it’s not good, then it’s not the end. She has battled through her championship diligently with perseverance and without getting disheartened by setbacks. She believed in herself and that failure cannot knock her down.

While she took to walking into her second innings of life with her husband Shoaib Malik, she has moved into being a bountiful mother. She’s had contented motherhood but putting on 23 kgs and losing it all post-pregnancy was gradual yet casual as she made it through.

Blessed with a baby boy, mommy Sania feels wonderful being a mother and she waits to see which gene will take over! She opens up in candid conversation and talks about her challenges with life, self and losing weight post pregnancy.

So, you are a great inspiration to a lot of people in the world and you are larger than life. Success doesn’t come easy. Tell us about your struggle.

I think that to reach anywhere in life no matter what you’re doing, there is some amount of struggle involved. There’s some amount of luck and a lot of destiny. I truly believe in that. For me, I’m not very fond of talking about the struggle that I’ve been through, but I feel very humbled when I think about it. I started playing tennis at the age of six. It’s more like the goal should be to be the best version of yourself. I think that struggle is what keeps you grounded. I’m very fortunate to be one of the best in the world.

Struggle makes an individual stronger. And the more you speak about it, the more it becomes inspiring for people around you. What’s your opinion on this?

For me, it wasn’t my struggle alone. It was a joint effort all through those years. My family supported me against all odds and encouraged me to chase my dreams in spite of many unpleasant opinions of the society that every girl is bound to bear. And I feel that’s the only way I can value what I have today and what my family has achieved together.

Your mother has been a strong pillar for you all through right from the beginning. So, tell us something about her role in your life.

I couldn’t have done anything without my family. Tennis seems like a very individual sport that we get on to the court and play. But the struggle that goes behind is what makes us be where we’re being watched playing the game. It’s a team effort where a lot of people are involved. My mom was actually the one who had enrolled me in tennis and I remember when she was almost full term pregnant with my sister Anam, she used to walk me 2 kms to play tennis and back home. And I think now that I’ve stepped into motherhood myself, It’s a journey that brings out a different side of you. Sometimes I also feel bad about things that I would have said in anger to my mom. I wouldn’t be able to take it if my son did that to me. Mom is just the best, because she thinks both her daughters can achieve anything in life and she’s made us believe that!

Can you tell us 5 things young tennis aspirants need to do?

Well, to start with they need to love tennis. If you don’t enjoy it and play under the pressure that you have to win and only win, it’s not going to be fun anymore. And the key is to enjoy playing tennis. So love it, enjoy it. Commitment and discipline are very important. But, as children at the age of 7, it’s not possible to be 100% disciplined. You should want it. In my case, I wanted to play tennis because I loved it. And I had to choose between being a bookworm and travelling when my headmistress convinced me to travel. Since then I grew up with the belief that “giving my best in what I want cannot deny success.”

So what quality of your mom would you definitely implement in your son’s upbringing?

Definitely the positivity. However, I’m more of a practical person and I believe that as a parent it’s necessary to give your child that confidence to be able to take decisions in their life.
When two strong forces come together it can either be tragic or it can create unreal magic. Tell us about your journey with Shoaib.
With Shoaib, I think it was against all odds sort of a thing with the way it all started. But at the end of the day, it’s just that we realise that no marriage is easy and we have to make it work. And especially in our case, it is quite a challenge because it’s a combination of geographical difference and both of us are into high pressured jobs of playing for the country. So, we have to adjust to each other’s strengths.

So, after all the struggle since childhood to Wimbledon, then marriage and now motherhood; how was your journey through your pregnancy?

I had the best pregnancy ever. I worked out, I did yoga and I actually did everything I wanted to. Exercising to me is a part of life. I even played tennis two days before I delivered. The key is to do everything in the right way even if it was eating a bowl of biryani and not forgetting to compliment it with regular exercise. And I lost 25 kgs post pregnancy with the mindset that health is important.

There’s a myth about post-pregnancy weight loss. They say that if you feed longer you lose more weight. Is that true?

Now, this is a little twisty. When you feed you lose weight. But you feel very hungry as if you can eat a horse. So, the trick is to eat but eat healthy, which is when you shed those extra kilos. The reason many women stay big for a long time post-pregnancy is because they’re eating a lot. It’s important to eat because you’re feeding, but what you eat makes a difference.

So, what would you tell all women to have as their diet and fitness plan?

To people who aren’t athletes, I’d say exercising one hour a day is a must. In fact, any form of exercise but it must be consistent. When it comes to diet, you don’t have to starve yourself to be fit. Eating healthy and anything that you can burn out easily is the key to being fit. Eating at the right time is also important. Make sure you eat before 8:00 PM.

How important is Ramzan for you as an athlete?

It’s very important to me and I do fast when I’m not playing. Also, we have some provisions to fast later on during the year. It’s, in fact, a great way to get super fit because it’s quite similar to intermittent fasting. So during Ramzan, It’s better to have a heavy meal in the morning so that you’re full for a longer time in the day and you don’t feel famished by the time it’s iftar time.

A quick note on diet that you’d recommend for young tennis players.

Before Workout - Oats, yoghurt, papaya, or strawberries, blueberries and honey.
Lunch - I prefer home food and anything that I feel like eating. But I eat everything in moderate quantity.
Snacks - I usually prefer fruits like papaya because it cuts fat and it tasty too!
Dinner - I avoid eating carbs for dinner. I eat chicken or any meat with veggies. And luckily I don’t have a sweet tooth and I lost it during my pregnancy and never got it back.