Inspired by Roger Federer, Sania Nehwal keen to play in Paris 2024 Olympics

Plagued by poor form and injuries, Saina Nehwal’s world ranking has dropped 11 places in the last two years.

By Ubaid Parkar
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Indian badminton star Saina Nehwal is not planning to retire anytime soon.

An Olympic bronze medallist, Saina Nehwal has been struggling on the court to deliver results in the last two years and even missed the cut for Tokyo 2020.

Saina Nehwal last won a tournament in 2019, when she beat Spain’s Olympic champion Carolina Marin in the final of the Indonesia Masters.

Since May 2019, Saina Nehwal has competed in 20 tournaments and fallen in the opening round 14 times and exited in the second round twice.

Ranked No. 8 in July 2019, Saina Nehwal is the current world No. 19.

Saina Nehwal last competed at the Orleans Masters in March, making it to the semi-finals, her first since the 2019 Indonesian Masters. But the recent string of poor results has not deterred the 31-year-old Indian.

“Badminton is what I enjoy. And when I can do it, I should try it,” Saina Nehwal told Badminton Europe ahead of the Uber Cup Finals, which starts on Saturday.

“When you see Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, I think they also feel that ‘why we should play after achieving so much.’ (Federer) is 40 I think… But he says he loves the game, it’s keeping him happy. 

“So, till I am happy with the sport, I will continue. When I feel it’s enough, if my body is not helping me and I can’t control injuries, then it will be time. 

“At the moment, I am enjoying the trip, coming out to see the matches… if at all, if I win something now, it will be great for me.”

Married to fellow badminton player Parupalli Kashyap since December 2018, Saina Nehwal, a former world No. 1 and a three-time Olympian, reckons she will take a few more years before settling down with a family.

“I know you will have a family and kids, but why can’t you have it at 36-37?” Saina reasoned. “Nowadays everything is ok. In India, you follow the Bollywood stars, everyone is enjoying their life.”

Added to the earnings she makes through badminton and the recognition she gets, Saina Nehwal sees no reason to give it up, just yet.

“What will I do even after retiring?” Saina wondered. “Without it, I would be just sitting at home watching TV or some serials (soaps)”

Saina Nehwal will be 34 during the Paris 2024 Olympics but the gritty Indian is nevertheless eyeing her fourth appearance at the Summer Games.

“I do not know what will happen in 2024, but I can definitely say that I feel good and I would like to try for Paris. And why not? If everything falls into place I can do it,” Saina said.