Tokyo 2020: 'Difficult decision to leave son at home,' says Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza will be playing her record fourth straight Olympics - her first after giving birth to her son in 2018.

By Aarish Ansari

Tennis queen Sania Mirza is set to become the first Indian woman to make four Olympic appearances but she will have to leave her two-year-old son behind when she travels for Tokyo 2020.

Sania Mirza’s son Izhaan will stay at home with her husband Shoaib Malik in Dubai since Japanese authorities have not permitted family members to accompany athletes in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

However, the decision to travel without her son has not come easy for the 34-year-old Sania.

"We are in difficult times and we have to make difficult decisions," Sania Mirza told AFP. "Leaving him at any time is difficult. I try to do it as little as possible.

“But if it's something I have to do, then that's what I will do. As working mothers, sometimes you have to do it.”

Since returning to competitive tennis after giving birth to Izhaan in 2018, Sania Mirza has played only select tournaments, skipping most due to strict protocols.

However, the six-time Grand Slam champion was “very sure” of competing at the Olympics.

"But never in my mind did I have any doubts about going (to Tokyo 2020). I was very sure.”

Sania Mirza first qualified for the quadrennial event at Beijing 2008 and has been a part of every edition since then.

"To play four Olympics in a row, I feel really humble and grateful to be in this position to go to Tokyo after having had a baby.”

The former world No. 1 came close to an Olympic medal at Rio 2016, losing in the semi-final of the mixed doubles with Rohan Bopanna.

Sania Mirza will team up with Olympic debutant Ankita Raina at Tokyo 2020 after gaining direct entry through her protected ranking of world No. 9.

She is currently competing at Wimbledon 2021 and has advanced to the second round of the women’s doubles. Izhaan is in UK with Sania.