Imran Mirza, the father and coach of Indian tennis superstar Sania Mirza, gave an insight into the background of raising his daughter into a world-class tennis champion during an interview with WV Raman, the current coach of the Indian women's cricket team.
Imran Mirza says Sania Mirza's success was due to efforts of the full family
Imran Mirza, who was a sportsman in his own days, says, "For the last 28 years, tennis has been the absolute core around which our family has revolved.
The whole family has stepped in. If Sania has made it, it's Team Sania that's won. It includes my wife, my younger daughter and a lot of other people as well. As the father I was probably the captain of the ship. I had to see that it sailed properly.
We had to see whatever problems came our way, we had to overcome them. That was my job basically. But one thing that I was particular about from day one was there should be no pressure on Sania whatsoever as far as winning matches and going to the top of the game was concerned.
It was always about enjoyment and as someone coming from a sporting family, I understood that parents' pressure can be a very serious thing and can destroy a person. That's something I eliminated from her games. People were surprised that Sania came out firing.
That's probably the biggest role I've played in her career: eliminating pressure, pressure that comes from situations. Imran says he always left the option open for her to leave the sport in case she did not enjoy it.
"You will be surprised that I had kept the doors open for her. Any day she didn't enjoy the game she could walk away from it. It was never a question of playing for us or for anybody else. It was about playing for herself and for her enjoyment.
That's something special about her. If she wanted something she'd go the extra mile to get it. Imran also spoke about the difficult time that Sania Mirza had learning to deal with the media because she was the first Indian female superstar at the time when the electronic media in India was just emerging.
"Sania emerged just as the electronic media in India was emerging. That was the time when Sania was making her presence felt on the tennis court. I just felt that the electronic media did not know how to handle a top level sporting icon who happened to be a woman.
Who happened to be reasonably decent looking. Who happened to know how to talk, who happened to know how to give it back and also a performer. And she had to pay a price for that. We were learning as well. I think the electronic media were themselves learning at that point in time.
The other women sporting icons who came after Sania didn't suffer like Sania did. But as a journalist I did have an advantage. I did manage to salvage some of the problems that came our way." Sania Mirza is a former World No.
1 in doubles and a former World No. 27 in singles. She has won six Grand Slam singles titles in her career.