By Tridib Baparnash
New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) For the better part of the past one-and-a-half-decades, she has been the undisputed queen of Indian women’s tennis, but the former doubles World No.1 Sania Mirza on Tuesday blamed the lack of proper sporting infrastructure in the country for the failure to produce a player who could probably challenge her numero uno status.
Despite the emergence of many youngsters in the women’s circuit, there have been hardly anyone who has managed to come close to the 31-year-old Hyderabadi, in terms of her performance in global tennis.
“We do not have a system in place. If a six-year-old wants to pick up a racquet today, he or she doesn’t know how to go about it. It’s a guessing game, it’s trial and error and that’s why we have a champion every 20 years. If we had a system in place, we would maybe have a champion every two years,” the six-time Grand Slam winner told IANS here.
“Tennis is a lot harder than the other sports, not in terms of the hard work that goes into it but in terms of what has to click to become a professional tennis player and to be really good at it. A lot of people actually die down due to the lack of financial support.
“I am not in any way trying to demean any other sport, just saying that tennis is too global a sport with 200 countries on the world stage every single day.
“There are 52 tournaments, one every week where you can play so you can think of the competition, specially coming from a place where there is no infrastructure for tennis,” she added.
Currently out of the court due to a knee injury, Sania praised the performances of the Indian Fed Cup team, comprising the likes of Ankita Raina, Karman Kaur Thandi, Pranjala Yadlapalli and Prarthana Thombare, but also pointed out that someone has to carry forward the mantle.
“I have seen these girls from last many years, they are a very good lot. They are very hardworking and talented but it’s about taking that next step,” she said.
“(World No.259) Ankita scored a couple of really good wins in the Fed Cup, she also had a win against a top-100 ranked player. I think that obviously gives you hope but we are waiting for that person to make the next jump and that hasn’t been happening,” she added.
“I am not going to play forever, so there has to be someone who can take forward the legacy of women’s tennis, which has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years and we don’t want it to go back to what it was and die down.”
Sania, who was unveiled as the brand ambassador of Max Bupa, also insisted on the importance of life insurance, specially given the current poor weather conditions and increase in pollution-related health issues.
(Tridib Baparnash can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)