Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik and his tennis-star wife Sania Mirza continue to surprise their fans on both sides of their border. Their story stands out amidst all the negativity that usually surrounds India-Pakistan relations.
Beyond the fact that the two come from countries that haven’t gotten along in decades, the couple also share remarkable stories of struggle and triumph.
When Malik and Sania got married, the former was on the peak of his career and form. Meanwhile, Sania was known but not as famous as she is today – world number one doubles players and the current US Open and Wimbledon doubles champion with Martina Hingis.
Later, in a change of roles, Shoaib was left in the wilderness, out of the Pakistan team while Sania continued to win laurels for her country.
But Shoaib has bounced back, scoring a double century in his first Test after five years and ensuring a spot for himself in the Pakistan team.
There’s something different about Malik. He is beginning to remindud us of the younger Malik who was made the youngest captain ever in Pakistan’s cricket history. And who do we owe it all to? You guessed it. None other than Sania Mirza.
“She was on the phone after I scored my two hundred and was very happy,” Malik told Telegraph Sport.
“When I was out of the team I used to travel with her to tennis events because I had lot of free time and she used to say the same thing ‘keep working hard and when you get the opportunity take it.’ She encouraged me to keep playing and to still think I had plenty of cricket left in me. That is what I did. When you look at her and how well she is doing, you get inspired and you want to do as well as her.”
The couple currently resides on the Palm island in Jumeirah, Dubai but Malik says they have three homes. “We have three places we call home: Pakistan, India and Dubai,” said Malik.
“Obviously Dubai is the main base for us. She plays almost throughout the year so it is tough to get opportunity to stay together in one place but whenever one of us is free we travel wherever the other is playing. Sadly, I could not see her win Wimbledon because I was in the Caribbean playing in their Twenty20 premier league.”
Malik explained Sania’s love for the game of cricket is the reason they are together today.
“Before we started dating, she used to love cricket. Even today she loves cricket. That is the game she watches. Obviously, when you are an Indian, cricket is your first passion whether you are male or female. She watches cricket all the time.”
However, Shoaib’s interest in tennis is just limited to the game being his wife’s profession. “I can play forehand but backhand never stays in the court so I don’t play tennis.”