Dubai: Indian tennis icon Sania Mirza and her Pakistani cricketer husband Shoaib Malik will join hands to start their own tennis and cricket schools in Dubai by August, Gulf News has learned.
‘Tennis and cricket together in one academy is something that has not been done before … There is a lot of potential in the United Arab Emirates, especially in Dubai, and we want to nurture that talent. “I have not talked about it until now,” Mirza said in an exclusive zoom interview with Gulf News. Her tennis school in the UAE will be a branch of the education academy she started in her hometown of Hyderabad in southern India.
The six-time doubles champion and mother to a toddler – who will soon be traveling to the UK for her matches – plans to start this sports hybrid school by August. Mirza and her husband have a home in Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. Malik’s assignment is the Pakistan Super League in Abu Dhabi, where he is part of the Peshawar Zalmi group, while Mirza’s goal is to take part in the Olympic Games in Tokyo – if all goes well.
Mirza was one of the shining examples of balance between a sports career and motherhood. If she does not exercise hard, she is becoming a practical mother.
When asked about her thoughts on the Japanese world No.22 Naomi Osaka’s decision to stop the French Open to protect her mental health and well-being, Mirza throws her weight behind her. “Mental health is very important. I have always been a supporter of people to get help when needed, and do not be ashamed of it if you have a problem. Just because you’re a superstar tennis player does not make you any less human.
‘You still have the same kind of feelings and emotions as any ordinary 23-year-old, no matter what you have achieved on the field. Her walk away is good, but the timing of her walk away may be questionable. But I think she was ready and she’s really the best judge to know when it’s time to walk away or when to come out with it. “I could not get out for 12 years of my life,” said Mirza.
Osaka withdrew from the French Open last week, saying the mandatory press conferences exacerbated her anxiety, especially if a player had a bad day. Her decision was equally praised and blown.
Mirza also reminded that a world-class tennis champion brings tremendous pressure. Having a high profile puts a lot of pressure on everything you do. There has been talk for days about the fact that she wants to walk away after she has walked away. Imagine the kind of pressure she is experiencing. I sympathize with her and understand to a certain extent where she comes from, ‘Mirza added.