Interview with former tennis player, Shikha Uberoi
A Good Sport
She was the first Indian woman to qualify and reach the second round of the US Open in 2004. She was one among the top 10 fastest server’s in the world. She is one of India¹s top 10 most glamorous athletes. And today she is the Co-Founder of Indi.com. Meet former top 100 WTA Tour tennis player, Asian Games Silver Medallist (Doha ’06), India number 1, Fed Cup India leader (#1 and 2 in India), Zee Astitva Athlete of the Year 2007 – Shikha Uberoi.
My first question for Shikha is if she always had a sporty side to her. “I did actually! I think I got it from my father who has been a celebrated table tennis player of his time. While Tennis has never failed to inspire and enthrall me, I always knew that I am more than a tennis player. In fact, that is the reason why I semi-retired from the fascinating world of tennis and touring and went back to complete my education from Princeton. I completed my Bachelor’s Degree from Princeton University, with a major in Anthropology and a minor in South Asian studies, while winning Princeton’s prestigious Kit Harris Memorial Award for Leadership and Ethics.” Again playing a demanding sport like tennis at an internationally competitive level certainly must have not been a piece of cake. So was it hard to pursue sports as a career? “It is a fascinating privilege really, to play a sport for a living. It is rigorous and grueling and taking a lot of losses early on teaches you important lessons about failure, it also reveals interesting things about yourself and when you pursue being number 1 in the world in tennis, well it really dictates how you perceive the world.” She admits that to be a sportsperson two short words matter – total submission. “You totally dedicate your life plus those closes to you to pursue excellence. It is a lot of blood, sweat and tears and some glory in between to keep you going.”
Shikha launched her media and lifestyle company, SDU Seva, Inc. in 2013 and is currently creating and producing international social issue television shows. She speaks internationally at various diplomatic conferences on female empowerment through sport and is slowly becoming a face and force for female empowerment in India. She has recently been invited to be on the board of directors of the World Economic Forum’s “Global Shapers Initiative” for Bhopal. She is now seeking to be India’s ambassador for fitness and health. She is also the co-founder of Indi.com a free global video platform where brands engage with their audiences. The platform enables brands to come up with specific, strategic and purposeful challenge, with an aim to spreading their brand awareness while achieving highly meaningful and compelling social media engagement. “Indi.com tracks the social media activity on the video entries, as part of the challenge. Indi is a total game changer. It is one of those platforms that you know changes behavior patterns and is a paradigm shifter, as it enables people to connect and engage with the seemingly inaccessible. I want to drive Indi to success and help make it become a billion-dollar company,” says Shikha. She is also the founder of Impact Media 360 where she creates and produces “purposeful programming,” TV programs that catalyze change. “I loved creating and executive producing The Real Deal and am currently taking it global. I’m also actively involved in the sports sector as a coach, mentor, and advocate for female empowerment through sport. All of these initiatives are closest to my heart and hence, I look forward to waking up every day,” she admits.
Her source of inspiration is her father who she says is one of the greatest people she has ever known as well as her four sisters and mother and admits it has been incredible to grow up with strong and talented women. One of the biggest heartbreaks of her tennis career was when the government of 2008 abruptly cancelled the right of athletes, of various disciplines, holding OCI cards to represent India.” It was just so absurd and killed many careers. It was a mental, emotional and life changing shock that I don’t think I will ever get over. The repercussions have gone beyond damaging athletes on an individual level, it hindered if not halted the progress of many Indian sports and above all, it was a reflection of the current and historical struggle of sport succeeding in India.” Outside of work however Shikha admits that she finds much pleasure spending time with family and says that when the five sisters get together it is a riot. “I love ordering in pizza and enjoying it while watching either a movie or TV show. It is a new hobby I have recently fallen in love with because I share it with my husband Divyansh. We just got married and it has been fun adopting his hobbies and adding my flare to them. I love dancing beyond almost anything else and recently I have been cooking on a daily basis. When I’m not burning something, I’m not bad. I intend to start a family in the coming years but not before Indi begins to soar and The Real Deal catalyzes major change on our planet,” she signs off.
Read the story in Deccan Herald’s She page here.