Interview: Sania Mirza sets her sights on return to top athletic form
F OUR months into motherhood, ace tennis player Sania Mirza, who has six Grand Slam doubles titles to her credit, is rediscovering herself as a doting mother to her son, Izhaan. The most successful female Indian tennis player is now sweating it out at the gym to get back into top shape. The talented athlete, who is equally fashionable, spoke with Indulge about how she shed around 23 kilos in four months, why there can be no other Serena Williams, and when she expects to be back in action on court. Excerpts from the conversation:
Your Instagram handle is loaded with pictures of you and your son, Izhaan. How has it been to discover the mother in you, so far?
It has been quite an amazing four months. It has been the most fulfilling, and challenging at the same time, but also the most content I have ever felt in my life. I didn’t know I had this selfless love that a mother has for their child — it’s a bond that is so natural.
Has motherhood changed you as a person? It has made me evolve as a person.
It has definitely made me more than just a woman or a tennis player or an athlete. I want everything and more for my baby than I want for anyone else, including myself in the world. And I think that’s the kind of love that motherhood introduces you to.
Will you be a strict mother or a liberal one, or a mix of both for junior Mirza?
I definitely think that I will have to be a mix of both. You are quickly getting into shape, and glowing as well. Ali Faraaz has guided you very well... Yes, most definitely. I think getting back in shape and getting back to full fitness was really my goal, and I am glad that I’ve been able to do it. There was a process and a lot of hard work, and a big team around it. Ali was a part of it — he was my dietician, and so it really helped. I was working out literally three weeks after I gave birth, and I was doing cardio for 100 minutes a day. At times, I even stretched it beyond two hours. I’m working with Robert now, who is my fitness trainer, to get back into top athlete shape.
What has your diet been like?
My diet was quite high on protein. However, I still needed to be careful on what I was having because the first few months I was feeding Izhaan. I didn’t indulge in any crash diet. I just worked out a lot and I had healthy food like grilled fish and chicken. I did have carbs as well, but believe it or not I was still losing weight. I lost about 23 kilos since I gave birth which is a lot in last four months. I completely went off sugar and dairy basically.
You’re also working out hard in the gym, and we saw you doing a 70-kilo deadlift. After how many months did you reach your set target? And, how tough has the training been?
It took me about three and half months to reach here, because I could only start doing weights in the last month or so. 70 kilos is what I used to do in my fittest days as well, not more than that. I love to celebrate these small milestones, as I think it is very important to celebrate the little achievements, especially for an athlete who goes through so much with their body after giving birth.
When can we expect you to be back on the tennis court? Do you miss playing?
Hopefully, by the end of the year. Of course, I miss playing, and I think that is something that defines me, and makes me who I am.
Does Serena Williams inspire you as she was back on court only five months after giving birth to her daughter?
I think Serena is an inspiration in many ways. She is amazing, and to get back in five months after giving birth is commendable. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been. Her body probably allowed it, everybody’s body is different. Everybody is not Serena Williams.
You’ve also started supporting your sister Anam with Label Bazaar, and you have always been so stylish. Are there any plans of floating a fashion label by you? Are you Anam’s personal muse?
I have been the brand ambassador of The Label Bazaar from day one. I’ve always been very closely associated with it obviously because it is Anam’s baby, and I’m so happy to see her take her dreams forward and move so far ahead with the brand. As of now, there is no plan for a new fashion label. My sister is my stylist, and in a way, I am her muse.
What’s your personal style like? What is fashion to you?
My personal style is synonymous with comfort. Fashion to me is about how comfortable you feel in a particular style. If you don’t feel good in what you are wearing, even if it’s in style, I don’t think it’s worth it.
How do you spend your free time?
I don’t have so much of free time now, as I am focusing on training and also, I have Izhaan, who is a handful. But whenever I get time, I try to catch up on some Netflix with some green tea.