Nirupama Vaidyanathan was the first Indian woman to play the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, setting the trail for Sania Mirza and others to follow. And in a recent interview to The Scroll, 43 year old Vaidyanathan says she finds Serena Williams really inspiring in coming back after having a child.
Vaidyanathan says, "Serena Williams is really inspiring in coming back after having her child. I think she has set her goal as winning another Grand Slam and I think that will happen. But after that, she will have to think about what’s next.
She has to think of her next goal in the context of motherhood. My thought is that if Serena wins a Grand Slam, she may be hanging up her rackets. She’s achieved everything. I may be wrong, but that’s how I felt once I had the chance to compete for India as a mother and I had reached that goal.
As a professional athlete, you’re supposed to be selfish. You have to think about your sleep, your food, your fitness, your workouts, and everything. When you have a child, that completely changes. I think when you become a mother while still being a professional tennis player, you have to set yourself a goal in your career.
You fit that career goal into the context of being a mother first. My goal, for example, was to play for the Indian national team. I wanted to win a medal too, and sadly, that didn’t happen. But I wanted to play for India.
I made it happen. Once that goal was achieved, I found that I either had to find a new goal to fit into my life as a mother, or I had to move on. When you are a parent and an athlete, your career becomes a series of goals that you can set for yourself in the context of your life as a mother."
Speaking about the current Indian women on the WTA Tour, Vaidyanathan says, "I would love to see Ankita and Karman play on the tournament circuit in Europe. On the European circuit, you may not win much but you can learn so much.
Sumit has done that and you have to give him credit for it. I feel that it has elevated his game. I think these two girls need to do that too if they want to reach the next level. The tournaments in Europe may showcase some of their weaknesses, but that’s how you learn.
Ankita and Karman have to do those kind of tough circuits to really get stronger mentally and physically. They both can share a coach and travel together. I think that’ll really help them get better, and then they can play some doubles together.
In my career, I always wanted to travel with somebody. To travel alone was so difficult. When you have two people who are almost the same level and kind of the same age, we should think about using each other productively."