Indian tennis legend Sania Mirza admitted she was a little surprised when she was initially approached by Royal Challengers Bangalore to become the mentor of their Women’s Premier League team for the inaugural season.
The six-time Grand Slam winner recently announced her retirement after a career where she won 43 WTA Titles.
“I was a little surprised when RCB approached me,” she admitted in an interview with RCB’s website. “But I was really excited too. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been a professional athlete for 20 years. It’s very depressing when I think about how long it has been sometimes. But I feel like my next job is to try and help young women or girls believe that sport can be one of the first career choices for them. Some of the things I did go through 30 years ago, when I picked up a tennis racquet to play tennis, was unheard of. I just want to help the next generation believe in themselves that no matter how many odds are against you you can achieve your goals if you back yourself.”
In the WPL auctions, RCB picked names like India star Smriti Mandhana, Australian all-rounder Ellyse Perry, Australian medium pacer Megan Schutt, New Zealand captain Sophie Devine, England skipper Heather Knight, South African all-rounder Dane Van Niekerk and India under-19-star Richa Ghosh.
The pioneer in Indian sports for women, a youth icon, someone who has played Bold and broken barriers throughout her career, and a champion on and off the field. We are proud to welcome Sania Mirza as the mentor of the RCB women’s cricket team. 🤩#PlayBold @MirzaSania pic.twitter.com/eMOMU84lsC
— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) February 15, 2023
On being asked what was common between the two sports when it came to mentoring athletes, she said: “Every athlete thinks the same way. They go through the same kind of pressures, on the field or on the court. You need to embrace pressure, because pressure is a privilege. If you don’t embrace it you cannot actually excel at sport. The biggest champions in any sport are ones that play best under pressure. That aspect, the mental aspect of it (being athletes) is something I look forward to working with with the younger girls in the team. I think I can bring in the mental steadiness, belief.
“If WPL does for women’s cricketers what IPL has done for men’s players, playing sport will become a natural career option for a lot of young girls and their parents,” she predicted.