Tanvi Shah© Tanvi Shah

Tennis Pro-Turned-Sportscaster Tanvi Shah On Her Journey And More

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Ananya Shankar

The 2023 ICC World Cup season drew eyes for a myriad of reasons, one of which being its vivacious presenter, donned in her signature bright-coloured suits. Defying the sportswoman stereotype, Tanvi Shah is quite the fashionista and as we compliment her on her chic outfits, she asks in jest, “Do you approve of them?” Well, with a magnetic presence to embody it, how could we not! Though she’s popularly recognised as a sports presenter today, hosting the ICC World Cup, IPL, T10 League, CPL and even the Tennis Premier League, she grew up a professional tennis player, making her country proud.

Ranked number one under 16, number two under 18 and 130 in the world, Tanvi played Junior Grand Slams, but before she could go further a lower back injury forced her to pivot. But that didn’t deter this ardent player; choosing to take a break from professional tennis,

she attended university in the US, studying communications with a concentration in public relations. “I played [tennis] for New York State and have a Chancellor’s Award for academic and athletic excellence. With a 3.8 GPA, I was MVP all the years,” Tanvi reminisces proudly.

She continues, “But at some point, I felt like I missed out on having a childhood. I wanted to go into the real world and not go back to rehab to fix my back. I needed to be true to myself and know that I was done. The next innings were waiting for me…” And thus began the next phase of a wildly successful career.

HELLO! chats with the one who’s the happiest around the realm of sports, about her personal journey, anecdotes from her interviews with star players, genuine advice and more.

HELLO!: Tanvi, take us back to the beginning. What drew you into the world of sports?

Tanvi Shah: “I grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia and then we moved to India, close to Shivaji Park Gymkhana. My brother used to play tennis, so my parents probably thought, ‘Let’s just get rid of her for a bit in the evening as well!’ (laughs). They sent me to the Academy where the coach told them that they should push me to pursue this. And by the time I was 10, I was already competing in tournaments and training full time.”

H!: You played in the Junior Australian Open as well—what’s your fondest memory from your time there?

TS: “One of the most special things [in life] is getting to play for your country. It’s hard to put into words since it’s a feeling. Everything felt worth it. All those years of me crying about why I couldn’t go to my friends’ houses at night to sleep over because I had to wake up at 5-6am for training… It came full circle, the years of discipline and sacrifice.”

H!: Can you share the story behind your transition to becoming a sports presenter?

TS: “I started working as a sports agent. I didn’t even know TV presenting was a career at all. I was fortunate to be on the tennis tour travelling with some of the biggest players in the world. One day an opportunity came to be a TV presenter for an ATP tournament and I’ve been in the sport so I understand what it takes. Next thing I know it meant being on TV, having multiple people talking in your ear; the director, producer… television broadcasting has rules, right? But nobody trained me.

I realised that just being around live sports is my life. It’s what I love; one of the only things I’ve known growing up. I took it upon myself to take up what was coming my way and getting better. That’s when I got an opportunity for cricket. I get to be around the best athletes in the world and learn from them; see how they manage their careers, how disciplined they are, what their lifestyles are like. The thing about being live on TV is that once you’re on, you’re on. Anything could be happening in the world, but at that moment, all you focus on is what you’re saying. It makes you think on the spot —be sharp and alert.”

H!: As a female sports presenter, have you faced or noticed any sexism on the field?

TS: “No, I’ve been very fortunate. There’s enough work and place for everyone. It’s best when everyone gets together, helping and motivating each other. I’ve had very good co-workers, producers and directors. Even when I started working—directly with legends in the field—they were so kind as to take me under their wing. Everyone was welcoming, they appreciated me and the fact that I also played a sport professionally for the country.

H!: What’s it like behind the scenes at the Gujarat Titans camp?

TS: “All the players have so much fun together. We have a team room where everyone plays table tennis. It’s incredible to see that win or lose, everyone has each other’s back and that keeps us all relaxed.

H!: What’s your go-to fashion mantra?

TS: “I want to look like I mean business. No fooling around here! Power dressing elevates your personality. But I can’t take all the credit for that, I have stylists and people helping behind the scenes.”

H!: Do you have a personal fitness routine that you still follow?

TS: “I was so disciplined and had such healthy eating habits while I was playing tennis, that I wanted to break free for a bit afterwards; I had an obsession with fries! And some of it has stuck with me, sadly. (Laughs) But I’ve been in Dubai now, and I do an ice bath once a week, play tennis and padel. I have an active lifestyle—it keeps me mentally and physically fit.”

H!: Tell us a little bit about your support system...

TS: “My parents, all credit goes to them. I remember my mother sacrificing everything at her young age to travel to all my tennis tournaments till I was on the Indian team. And my friends as well. If you don’t have people that have your back in the tough lives we lead, it’s not easy. I’ve been blessed to call a handful of them my family.”

H!: Advice you would give to aspiring sportscasters or women in general?

TS: “Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough, what you should or shouldn’t be doing. Always have a mentor, but go after what you want. If you work hard and you’re passionate, it’s going to come to you.”

H!: What are your goals and aspirations in life?

TS: “Does life ever happen as per one’s plans? Never. My goal is just to be happy and healthy. To be surrounded by the people that I love and have good work come my way.”

This article has been adapted for the website from the March 2024 issue. Grab your copies here.