Tennis star Sania Mirza, winner of six Grand Slam titles, is donning a different role — saviour to the needy in these troubled times.

Sania, who has just completed the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine on her return from the U.S., has joined hands with an NGO — Safa Society — to help daily wage-earners who have been badly hit by the 21-day lockdown imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Fighting a larger issue’

“The pandemic has made tennis, or for that matter, any sport irrelevant. Right now, I am not concerned about events getting cancelled, even Wimbledon. Tennis is a small part of our lives. We are fighting a larger issue,” said Sania in an exclusive chat with The Hindu on Tuesday.

Also read | Wimbledon will be cancelled, says tennis official

“First I donated to the NGO, then I felt it would be great to be involved in a collective effort for better results. I am glad that within one week we could raise ₹1.5 crore,” Sania said.

“This crisis has reminded us that we take many things for granted. I am saddened by visuals of people walking 800 km just to reach their homes,” she said.

Sania further said, “Given the kind of response from across the country, it has been a really challenging task to identify real beneficiaries. But, we are taking utmost care that the needs of these people are well and truly addressed. We are reaching out to people in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, North Karnataka and Hyderabad to start with.”

Sania said she and her family had always honoured their social obligations and that she was proud to be associated with this initiative.

On the post-virus scenario, she said, “Human beings adapt easily and we will move on.”

The difference between an injury-break and this lockdown, she said, was “when injured you are focused on getting back into rhythm, for you know the problem and there is a solution and a time-frame. Here you are fighting a deadly disease,” she said.

“I will be back on the circuit, and hopefully, win a few more titles for I do believe that I have a lot more to give on the tennis court,” she said.

Special day

April 12 is a special day for Sania, as it was on this day in 2015 that she became World No. 1 in women’s doubles. “That is still the most memorable moment for me. And, also the fact that I finished two year-endings as numero uno,” she said.

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