New Delhi: She was at the peak of her career when she decided to step into motherhood, but tennis star Sania Mirza, who is due to deliver next month, always believed in moving forward in her life.
For her, pregnancy doesn't mean taking things away from 'what you are or who you are' as she says that one needs to understand that pregnancy doesn't make you handicapped, but empowers a woman in many different ways.
In an interview over phone from Hyderabad, Sania said her profession 'fortunately or unfortunately' required her to stop doing what she was doing to plan her family when she was at her career's peak.
"Having said that, it's not about always choosing what's the right time, its just about how you feel about it.
"For me, when my husband used to ask me year and a half ago about having a baby, I said that I am not yet ready for few more years and then suddenly my thought process changed after a few months. I don't know what made this change but at the end of the day, I always believe in moving forward in my life and I don't think that becoming a mother really takes things away from what you are or who you are."
Sania added: "It empowers who you become and who you are. This is why I try to stay as active as I can because as a woman, I think unfortunately we have to do little bit of sacrifices for few months when we are not able to do everything but that doesn't mean that you will not get what you were doing or how you work before.
"I think the most important thing is to understand that you are pregnant, you are not handicapped. Pregnancy is a part of who you are. Try to be normal."
Sania says she has had many self realisations after becoming pregnant.
"I think we probably sometimes take it for granted that motherhood will just come. We don't really understand the magnitude of it. As women, we are able to create another human thing and I think that's the realisation. It made me even more aware as a woman and what our bodies can do and can create and how mentally strong women actually are that we are able to do something like this.
"I was working, travelling and doing everything I should do. I think that is something a pregnant woman needs to understand that your body is able to cope up with that stuff and its natural for us," she said.
Sania married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik in a traditional Hyderabadi Muslim wedding ceremony on April 12, 2010.
So how has Shoaib been as a husband during the pregnancy?
"He is really good. Our marriage is little different than other couple where we get less time to spend with each other. Until a few months ago, I used to see him lot more because I was travelling but now since I can't travel and he is playing, we don't get much time. But I feel that he was very patient specially during my first trimester of pregnancy, because I was having major mood swings! He has taken some long flights even if he had to come and see me for two days.
"He has done whatever he has been able to, spend as much time with me in my pregnancy and he's a very hands on kind of person so I think he'll be a hand's on and loving father as well," said the 31-year-old who is both anxious and excited to see the new born soon.
However, there was a time - when Sania decided to marry Shoaib - she received a lot of negative comments but she wants to protect her child from anything negative.
"I can't answer hypothetical questions. Having said that, though I have been answering some kind of stupid questions from a very young age and I now have learnt how to handle them and so has Shoaib. I think that's the advantage that we both realise and we both know the kind of things people can come up with. Obviously, the first priority is to protect your child from any such thing," she said.
A former world No. 1 in the doubles discipline, Sania's current focus is her child.
"I think to be very honest right now, my main goal is to give all my positive and good energy to my child. I can't think about anything else as a mother. That is the most important thing. Eventually tennis will happen but I don't want to set a time-line for myself because that's not what I want to focus on this moment, but obviously I will try to get on court as soon as possible," said the recipient of Padma Shri, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award and Padma Bhushan honours.