‘It was spreading like fire, we were all in shock, scared’: Sania Mirza
With all sporting events suspended, and most training centres and national camps shut, what are athletes doing with their forced leisure time? Everyday a top athlete will talk about her or his experience of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
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. 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.
My dad (Imran Mirza) and I then returned home to Hyderabad. We had an experience while coming back as well. We were supposed to fly back home one day earlier from Los Angeles, but five minutes after we got on to our flight, there was an accident before we started taxiing. Something went wrong with the plane’s engine, so we all had to off-load. Our flight got cancelled and we had to fly out the next day.
The decision to self-isolate ourselves at home came instinctively, because there was no way my dad and I wanted to take any chances. 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.
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. It also gives you a chance to enjoy the little things that you probably don’t usually do because you are so caught up in the worldly things. I get to spend a lot of time at home, and not live out of a suitcase for a change. And of course, thank God for Netflix and movies!
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 everyday. Luckily I have a tennis court in my house, so I’m able to get some work done. I haven’t been practising as such; just training and working out to be healthy and just feeling good.
Izhaan (Sania’s son) and I are together most of the time. He travels with me (on the Tour), anyway. So for me, us spending time together was something that was never in question. I don’t think that I’d want to have a pandemic to see a silver lining, but to be honest, we have to see the positives out of this situation. And like I said, I get to spend quality time at home with family and do those small things that actually matter; appreciate the little things that we have and be grateful for them.
Tennis-wise, I had just got back (on the Tour); 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.
As far as the Olympics are concerned, 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. 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.
I just hope and pray that all this passes by really soon.
As told to Rutvick Mehta