Badminton star Jwala Gutta’s gold-winning efforts in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and bronze medal in the World Championships have changed the concept of doubles in the country. “Before me there was nobody who did well in doubles from the country. The amount of tournaments I have won, nobody has done that previously. I had nobody to look up to in doubles. So, I’m happy that I created interest in doubles, and for the younger generation to take in a serious way,’’ she reflected.
Jwala will partner Prajakta Sawant in next week’s India Open Super Series in New Delhi, her first major event after splitting with Ashwini Ponnappa. Excerpts...
On the India Open Super Series event
I’m positive. I have played with lot of partners. The India Open is a big one as it is a Super Series event. It is important for the public to know the popularity of the game in the country. The whole concept of badminton changed after the CWG. The public wants to connect with the game. They want to see Indian players in front of them. Badminton is the next big thing after cricket in the country. Our performances in the last three or four years have been good. I hope the emerging players would benefit.
On poor doubles response
We lack a good attitude towards doubles. Till today, people say a lot has changed in doubles. But it is me who brought the awareness. Unfortunately, we don’t have a second string. There is lot to ponder over this issue. It needs a lot of hard work and planning to make doubles more attractive to younger players.
Pressure is always there, whether I’m playing with my new partner Prajakta or Ashwini. I’m enjoying playing with Prajakta now and have worked hard. I have lost all my ‘holiday’ fat.
On being a successful doubles player
Technically, it is difficult to understand and different from singles. If you understand the game of doubles, then you can play with any player.
On Ponnappa split
I have sweet memories with her. There were a lot of things happening and I don’t regret playing with a new partner. It’s good Ashwini is happy with her new partner. So am I. I hope she does better than me. I enjoyed playing with her. Prajakta is a skilful player and she is already established. She played for the country till about a year ago. It is easy to adjust with her.
On her film role
I enjoy whatever I am doing. There is no stress or pressure. I did the small film role (Telugu) for fun. Now I’m back playing serious badminton. I was nervous before the release. The film world is difficult. I think they work hard to look good and beautiful.