Claiming her first BWF title in two years, find out more about Saina Nehwal’s travels around the world in pursuit of glory. By Sumeet Keswani
T+L: What is it like to travel the world as a sportsperson?
Saina Nehwal: Travel is essential but challenging for a player. Within a week, you go through a lot. A win means you get a hero’s reception on return; a loss means more rigorous training. My first international trip was to Prague in 2003. I was a minor then (13 years old), so my father was asked to send a guardian certificate for me to enter the country. I don’t remember the hotel or even the stadium I played at, just that I won the tournament.
T+L: Which are your favourite cities around the world?
Saina Nehwal: I like Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and coastal cities of China like Macau. In Europe, I like Paris, Basel, and Copenhagen, but I’m always afraid of extreme winters. The Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney are my favourites in Australia. Brazil feels like India.
T+L: A destination that you want to visit.
Saina Nehwal: I would like to visit Jakarta time and again. I won my first super series title there in 2009, becoming the first India woman to do so. Also, I haven’t visited the US yet.
T+L: The most awkward experience you’ve had while travelling.
Saina Nehwal: Air turbulence scares me. On my second-ever international trip, to Singapore, I vividly remember embracing the seat in front and screaming.
T+L: What does luxury mean to you?
Saina Nehwal: I like a hotel that has a 24-hour gym.
T+L: What item(s) do you never travel without?
Saina Nehwal: My laptop for the daily dose of TV shows.
T+L: Your top three luxury hotels around the world?