Earlier in 2020, India’s Sania Mirza made a triumphant return to tennis after a maternity break, winning the Hobart International women’s doubles title with partner Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine on Saturday.
The unseeded duo beat second seeds Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-4 to lift the title in straight sets. This is the pair’s first title together while it is Mirza’s 42nd career title and the fifth for Kichenok.
The winner of six Grand Slam titles and Padma Bhusan recipient, has written an open letter after watching Discovery Plus documentary Being Serena.
Here’s the full text of the letter written by the former doubles world No 1:
An Ode to All Mothers
It is often said that a woman has to choose between becoming a mother and chasing her dreams. Today, I write this letter sharing my journey and also a little bit about the inspiration I got from Serena Williams and her journey. I want to dedicate my words to all the wonderful and strong mothers who have dared to dream and each day have strived to maintain a balance between motherhood and their professions.
To a world that stereotypes women as homemakers it often comes as a surprise if one succeeds in fulfilling her dreams and career with sheer grit and determination. More so, when it is sports, it is not something that comes naturally to families to say that we have a daughter and we want her to become a professional sportsperson.
Things get even more precarious when one conceives and the first thing that clouds the judgement is whether I will be able to make a comeback or not?
Though, the scenario has changed a lot in recent years and there are several mothers who are competing at the highest level in tennis. I can say so confidently having made a comeback after pregnancy myself! I am sure a lot of women will relate to a lot of things I am sharing here.
Having seen Serena, playing in the same era and being around her and watching her gripping documentary Being Serena was like watching her in reality. It shows so much about her personality, her fighting spirit, her passion and her will to succeed even after achieving so much.
Just like her, pregnancy is something that I had experienced for the first time in my life. I thought about it and I think we all have a certain picture about it but once you experience it you really understand what it means. It absolutely changes you as a human being.
Its an extraordinary thing. Its an experience I recommend women should go through because it really does teach you to respect yourself and your body but also teaches you the selfless kind of love that at least I never knees existed for me.
I think pregnancy and having a baby made me a better person. Getting back to shape and form after pregnancy can be a challenge and I can relate to Serena and every other woman on that.
I think it’s normal for everyone because you don’t know how your body is going to react post-pregnancy and during pregnancy. Having put-on around 23kgs during my pregnancy, I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to get back to being fit and playing tennis again.
However, I lost around 26 kilos with a lot of workout regimes and very strict diets and came back to tennis because that’s what I know, love and do.
Finally, when I won at Hobart after coming back it was pretty amazing. I was honestly very proud of myself to have been able to put myself to compete at the highest level again and I think that’s where I was mentally.
It sometimes becomes hard to find hope in difficult situations but our love for our profession and family equally, helps as gain that balance. It makes as what we are and proves that women can achieve what they want. Serena’s efforts to be a perfectionist on the court and off it as well, motivate as all. She has taught the world that you can have it all if you work hard and don’t give up on your dreams.
A Mother and a Tennis Player