Sania Mirza reflects on vital life lessons from tennis

Former Indian tennis player Sania Mirza recently appeared on BBC Urdu to discuss her retirement decision, the changes in her life and the broader life lessons she has learned from her illustrious sports career. In a detailed and introspective conversation, Mirza shared insights into her personal growth and the reasons behind stepping away from professional tennis.

The 37-year-old explained her retirement decision, emphasising the physical demands that influenced her timing: “A lot of people asked about my decision to retire. I wanted to stop on the top. It was very important to me.” 

The sports icon delved further into how her recovery after a strenuous match was not the same anymore. “My body had become a huge problem after three surgeries and a kid as well. The recovery wouldn’t happen the way it was needed,” she remarked. Despite her successes, the journey wasn’t always visible to spectators: “People would see that I was playing finals but they couldn’t see what I had to do to get there.”

Addressing her public persona and perception, Mirza shared her philosophy on dealing with public scrutiny and criticism. “I don’t think I feel that people are after me but I do understand and realise that not everyone can like you in the world. Everyone in your family can’t like you, then how would everyone in the world like you?” 

She furthered on, providing a glimpse into her mature approach to fame and public opinion, “There are millions and millions of people. Everyone has different opinions, choices, likes, and dislikes. It’s not a personal attack on you.” 

Over the past decade, Mirza noted significant personal growth, particularly in her patience, largely influenced by motherhood. “I have definitely developed more patience. I think that is something that has happened both with my age and my child’s birth. I think when you become a mother, you don’t have a choice other than being patient,” she expressed, highlighting the transformation from her earlier impulsive tendencies to a more thoughtful demeanour.

On what’s truly important

Mirza also revisited her past comments about staying grounded despite fame. “I think the world we live in today, be it social media or as in my case, fame, you have so many people around you telling you nice things. It’s very important that you also have people who tell you the truth.” 

For the tennis star, to stay in touch with reality means carrying the full recognition of what’s truly important. “The most important things in life are not money and fame,” she contended. “They are a part of luxury but they are not the most important. What’s most important is who is going to be there for you in your tough times, who are you willing to stand up for.”

Drawing parallels between sports and life, Mirza articulated how the competitive spirit and resilience fostered on the tennis court translate into navigating everyday situations. “The same principles apply in life because they build your personality. The education I have received from sports in this regard, I don’t think there is a book in the world that could teach me the same.”

According to the sports veteran, “You know that there are good days and bad days, you win, you lose but you show up again the next day to try and you try to get better than you were the day before.”

“Bad days don’t last. Good days also don’t last but you have to try to stretch those good days and if you had a bad day, then the next day, you have to try and make it better,” Mirza reflected, encapsulating the ethos that guided her through both her professional and personal life.

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