Indian tennis star Sania Mirza says it is time to jettison “what will people say” mentality if girls and women are to attend their full potentials in life.
The six Grand Slam winner maintained that the mentality has killed a lot of dreams, thus forcing many to merely dream about what would have loved to be without achieving it.
A popular face in Nigeria in the good days of Ogbe Hard Court, Heineken futures and the Governors Cup in Lagos, Mirza was speaking during a webinar organised by the All India Tennis Association and the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
She thanked her parents for standing by her in spite of the fact that their stand appeared contrary to the norm
“What we were doing was against the norm. I started playing at age of six and at that time a girl picking up the racquet and dreaming of playing Wimbledon was laughed at.
“Log kya kahenge (what will people say) has killed more dreams than anything else. I was lucky to be born to parents, who did not care about it.”, she enthused.
She however expressed confidence that the situation will improve for the better as women athletes are gradually being accepted in India.
“I take huge pride in the fact that outside cricket, the biggest sports stars are women athletes. If you see magazines, billboards, you find women sports stars. That is a huge step; I know how difficult it is to pursue a sport being a woman,”
“This is a signal that things have changed but we have miles to go before we reach the point where when a girl picks up boxing gloves, or a badminton racquet or says ‘I want to be a wrestler’, it’s not out of ordinary, it should become natural progression.” She submitted
The 33 year old charged up and coming athletes to be steadfast noting that “Secret to success is competitiveness. I was always aggressive, did not mind losing a few matches or making mistakes at junior level. The goals were bigger. My parents never blamed me after I lose a match ”
She equally recalls that playing against American tennis great Serena Williams was a confidence booster.
“The belief that you can be the best is a must. When I competed against Serena Williams, it gave me a confidence boost, “she recalled.
India boasts of a number of trailblazing women athletes, who have achieved significantly at the world stage.
Olympic medal-winning shuttlers P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, six-time world champion boxer M C Mary Kom, Asian Games champion wrestler Vinesh Phogat, and former world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu are among the lot making waves globally