With the Australian Open 2021 to reach its culmination this weekend, Indian tennis star Sania Mirza tipped Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic to claim the women's and men's singles titles respectively in Melbourne.
While 3-time Gand Slam winner Osaka will take on unheralded Jennifer Brady in the final on Saturday, ATP No. 1 Djokovic will square off against in-form Daniil Medvedev at the iconic Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.
Sania said she expected Serena Williams to win the title but Osaka is a much better player now after tasting Grand Slam success thrice while giving Djokovic the edge in the men's showdown.
“My favourite was Serena but now it’s Osaka. She has the experience of winning three Slams, so she will have the edge over (American) Jennifer Brady. And among the men, Novak (Djokovic) has won this title so many times, I’m sure he’ll bring his ‘A’ game to the final," Sania was quoted as saying by Mid-Day.
The 34-year-old mother also spared some thoughts for the gutsy Serena Williams, who broke down after failing to win her record 24th Major once again while falling short to Osaka in the semi-finals over straight sets.
Sania reasoned that it's commendable to see what Serena has achieved after becoming a mother and shared her experiences on what a mother faces while trying to balance her personal and professional life.
“Making a comeback to the game [post-motherhood] is one of the toughest things in life and that’s why Serena deserves so much credit, not just to come back, but also to find that motivation to fight. It’s extremely tough after giving so much, to still go out there and put out this effort,” she said.
Sania further added: “You’re a young mother, you have a young child and there are a lot of needs for children, especially when they are very young. Mothers are the main caretakers for the first few years of their life. It [comeback to tennis post-motherhood] has been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life.
“I worked for a whole year-and-a-half (after child birth). I had to first lose weight, then I had to try to find the time to train in a certain way to get back to the professional level. It takes a lot when you’re a full-time mother as well.
“The child doesn’t understand what you’re doing, but the fact is that we (mothers) should also be allowed to go after our dreams like everyone else."
Making a comeback to the game [post-motherhood] is one of the toughest things in life and that’s why Serena deserves so much credit, not just to come back, but also to find that motivation to fight. It’s extremely tough after giving so much, to still go out there and put out this effort.”