The Times of India’s tennis editor Prajwal Hegde has been recognised with the Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award in the 2021 ATP Awards.
“I’m very, very happy,” Hegde said. “As an Indian, covering a global sport that runs on the wheels of individual excellence, where we’ve come up short in recent years, you are on the periphery of things… This award is recognition that my work is relevant internationally too.”
Hegde, who played tennis at national level when younger, began her journalism journey with the Times of India as a freelancer, while she completed her BA in Journalism degree at Mount Carmel, Bangalore. From there, Hegde’s first job was with Mid-Day in Mumbai from 1992-1996, covering a range of sports, including tennis, cricket and field hockey.
Hegde then spent nine years with Deccan Herald, Bangalore, where her focus shifted largely to tennis, covering Wimbledon, Davis Cup ties and ATP Challenger Tour events in India. Her successful work earned Hegde the opportunity to become the tennis editor of the Times of India in 2005 and from there, Hegde has had memorable experiences.
Two highlights include interviewing Roger Federer on a twilight boat cruise in London during the 2011 Nitto ATP Finals and covering Indians Mahesh Bhupathi, Leander Paes, Sania Mirza, Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna on court.
“I was quite unwell that day in London, looking back, I can still feel that discomfort,” Hegde said. “I was actually wondering how I would get through the rest of the evening at The O2, but when Nicola (Arzani) told me the ‘Roger interview’ was on, I felt completely well. In an instant. It was ridiculous.
“Indian tennis is a difficult business to cover if it pulls at your heartstrings. You are constantly faced with what was and what is… But it has given me great moments too: Davis Cups, Bhupathi-Paes, Rohan Bopanna, Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza, covering them at different stages of their journey, home and away, anchored me. It gave me a sense of belonging.”
Hegde has also written books, with her debut novel ‘What’s Good About Falling’ published by Harper Collins in 2018.