Mirza said, “I have been asked who is next a lot, a lot.” Unfortunately, I always find this answer empty.
It’s about structures, she agrees, and all Indian players, men and women, who have risen high in the game agree they did so “in spite of the system, not because of it.”
For Mirza, “We’re a cricket nation, but we’re not really a sports nation.” But she intends to continue to contribute to the tennis effort: through her eponymous academy in Dubai and Hyderabad.
But she’s not done playing it yet, even if her grand slam days are over, and on Friday, when she took to the microphone after her last final in Melbourne, she choked but pressed on, returning to face Williams.
“That was scary enough 18 years ago,” she said. “And it was a privilege to come back here again and again.”
She didn’t come out a hero, but she was a hero on her own terms.
“I think if I had to pick one trait of Sanya, it was that she was fearless,” said Hegde. “She was born this way. At every stage there were hurdles: from the clothes she wears, to the way she plays, to the way she looks, to what she says. There was always this tendency to try to make her like everyone else, like other women.
“It wasn’t the India of today. It came far ahead of its time, and it came at a time when it wasn’t appropriate to be you. You had to conform. But she told everyone it was okay: sit as you like, wear what you like, do what you like, do anything “.
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