For over a decade, Saina Nehwal has broken records and created sporting history with her killer moves and big-ticket wins. Now more determined than ever, the badminton star, with a biopic out soon, is ready to take over centre court
She may be one of the world’s most celebrated badminton players, but when Saina Nehwal was little, everyone knew her as Steffi, a nickname her mother gave her. Just two years before she was born in Hisar, Haryana, tennis champ Steffi Graf had become the only player in the world to achieve the Golden Slam (winning four Grand Slam titles and the Olympic gold medal in a single year). Back then, television viewers could rattle off the names of all the top tennis players: Boris Becker, Monica Seles, Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova, Andre Agassi and Graf. But badminton? We played it in school and in our backyards. We knew Prakash Padukone, but we rarely watched any matches. That was until Saina Nehwal burst onto the court and almost single-handedly popularised the sport we’d all taken for granted.