India tennis star Sania Mirza felt scared and shocked seeing the outbreak of the Coronavirus in India. Upon her return to India from Dubai earlier this month, the Gram Slam winner narrated how she didn’t realise the impact of the COVID-19 till the time the Indian Wells Tennis Tournament wasn’t called off. Also Read - Tennis | Sania Mirza Returns to WTA Circuit With a Win in Qatar Open
“I flew from Dubai on the morning of March 8 and managed to reach Indian Wells around 20 hours later. And about an hour later, the tournament got cancelled. I think it was probably at that moment when the impact of this outbreak hit me,” Mirza told Hindustan Times. Also Read - Australian Open 2021: Ankita Raina Becomes Fifth Indian Woman Player to Feature in Grand Slam Main Draw
“We were already hearing about stuff happening around the world but it wasn’t as close to home as I thought; I thought that it was more of a beast in Asia or east Asia at that point. But then it was spreading like fire. So when the Indian Wells got cancelled, I think that’s when everybody was in a bit of a shock and thought, ‘Okay, this is actually real now’. That’s when it felt a bit scary, to be honest.” Also Read - It's a Girl For Anushka Sharma, Virat Kohli! From Alia Bhatt To Sania Mirza, Celebs Pour In Their Congratulations!
Sania had teamed up with Ankita Raina to play the Fed Cup in Dubai but the tournament, like many other sporting events, was called off. Incidentally, two days after Mirza and Raina had qualified for the Playoffs, reports of a Pune-based couple who had returned from Dubai testing positive for COVID-19, surfaced.
“The decision to self-isolate ourselves at home came instinctively, because there was no way my dad and I wanted to take any chances,” Mirza said. “We were screened after we landed at the Hyderabad airport and went through the normal testing procedures. We had to fill out a few forms mentioning our travel history, details, etc. Then we made the decision to self-isolate, even though at that point I don’t think it was mandatory. But I’m glad that we did.”
Sania, who returned to professional tennis from her maternity leave, won the women’s doubles title before a 3.5 cm muscle tear ruled her out of the tournament in Melbourne last month. Sania played the Dubai Duty Free Tennis championship for four weeks with Caroline Garcia of France as her partner but they bowed out in the pre-quarterfinals before she went to Dubai to play the Fed Cup.
“It’s an unexpected break for everybody. That said, tennis seems a bit irrelevant with everything that is going on. We should just be healthy, thankful if we are and grateful for the fact that we are all safe in our homes,” explained Mirza.
“I had played four tournaments (apart from the Fed Cup). I felt that I was starting to play really well, and coming off some victories at the Fed Cup, I was very confident going into my future tournaments. But hey, it is what it is! Right now, you just want to come out of this safe and healthy. Tennis is something that can always come back later.
“Frankly, I’m not really switched on to tennis right now. I’m taking it one day at a time, like I assume everybody else is too. But I am training and working on my fitness every day. Luckily I have a tennis court in my house, so I’m able to get some work done. I haven’t been practicing as such; just training and working out to be healthy and just feeling good.”
Weighing in on the postponement of the Tokyo Games till next year, Mirza said she wasn’t surprised at the call. “I guess the decision (to postpone the Tokyo Games to 2021) was expected. It was just about it being made official. I think it is probably for the better, anyway,” she pointed out.
“There are so many uncertainties that it is better that we are all in a safe environment. And the same goes for when we are playing at the Olympics as well. Hopefully, we will be able to play next year, and hopefully those will be better times.”