New Delhi– India’s tennis ace Sania Mirza battled depression after she had to pull out of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games due to a wrist injury.
The injury, which kept the six-time Grand Slam winner in doubles out of competitive tennis for a year, left her a mental wreck, unable to ‘come out of my room to even eat a meal for over a month’.
In an interview to YouTube channel, Mind Matters, Mirza said, “That day — when I had to pull out of the 2008 Beijing Olympics because of a bad wrist injury — I went into depression for 3-4 months. I remember crying for no reason. I mean, I used to be absolutely fine and then I would just burst into tears. I remember not coming out of my room to even eat a meal for over a month.
“I felt I will never be able to play tennis again. I am a bit of a control freak, so for me not being able to do something not on my terms was very difficult to digest,” said Mirza, who recently was part of the Indian contingent which competed in the Billie Jean King Cup in Latvia.
The 34-year-old said that for a 20-year-old, on the threshold of making it big, it was a major blow.
“It’s a lot for anybody at any age, but for a 20-year-old to handle that kind of pressure, to handle that kind of emotion and to read every day that you’re finished and you’re never going to come back to not knowing if you’ll ever be able to compete at another Olympics, is devastating,” said the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee.
“My wrist was so bad that I wasn’t even able to comb my hair. I had lost complete motion. And, after the surgery, it got worse. I felt that I had let my family down, myself down. I have left my country down because I had to pull out of the Olympics.”
Battling that intense anxiety, her family was the pillar of strength, which helped her win back her confidence to hit the courts again.
“My family helped me see the right direction. I came back from that a year later. I didn’t play tennis for 6-8 months. After that, I came out of that hole, so to say. That was the year of the Commonwealth Games in India and I won two medals. That goes to show you that when you are mentally in the right space your success follows.”
Her advice to professional athletes is to ‘keep your mind in the right place every time you compete’.
“If you don’t, it is very difficult to be the best athlete that you can be. I knew that if I did not pay attention to my mental health, did not speak to my psychologist that will affect me.”(IANS)