Carla Khan

Women’s Captain

Why did you join the Berkshire Squash Committee?
I stopped playing and coaching squash professionally in 2008 but decided to get involved again when two of my children started to really enjoy it. They now absolutely love the game and this encouraged me to coach them and help other children. Then, having recently moved to Berkshire, I was reconnected with Simon Street (Berkshire Squash Chairman) and I was really excited by his inspirational vision and the things the committee are getting involved with. I find it really exciting to join a fantastic team, and together we can make a huge difference. I really want to help build squash in our county – it is an extraordinary sport that caters for all levels and everyone is welcome!

I also find it really inspiring to see children, teenagers, busy parents and seniors all playing and having fun – regardless of their level. I am also proud of how diverse squash is and am now proud to wear a hijab too.  

Where and when did you start playing squash?
Compared to most professionals, I was quite a late starter. As a child, I suffered from bad health and my doctor advised my parents It would be a good idea to take up sport to improve my health, so my father took me to a squash club when I was 12. From that moment I instinctively loved the game and, whilst I was useless initially, I never gave up. At the time, we lived in Middlesex and there were so many good junior and senior players with many great squash clubs – I soon became hooked!

Who were your biggest influencers in the game?
My parents were my biggest influencers – my father, Wasil Khan, was my coach, mentor, manager and financial supporter. My mother, Jacqui, was my backbone and gave me great belief and took me to tournaments in the UK and around the world! They dedicated their lives to satisfy my ambition to become a top professional and I was extremely lucky to have their support. 

When I was growing up, I had no idea that I came from the most amazing squash dynasty – a family of World Champion Khans! My parents kept this from me initially, so that I did not feel any pressure and could focus on my own achievements. Later, I became aware of the hard work, determination and history of my grandfather, Azam Khan, and his brother Hashim Khan. They were the pioneers of Pakistan and World squash and their story of becoming World Champions is unbelievable – true legends of the game. I found my heritage extremely motivational, as I started my professional career. 

What was your most important squash development?
There were so many throughout my playing and coaching career.  However, I think what stands out most was when I was first starting out and I decided to never give up, despite being rubbish!  I remember my first county tournament and my father entering me, knowing I couldn’t even serve! Onlookers thought this was strange but this didn’t dishearten me and made me even more determined to achieve – I soon became a top England junior.

What was your most significant squash event?
Having turned professional, I beat the top seed Nicol David from Malaysia in the Irish Open in 2004. This will always be my most cherished achievement as she was an 8X World Champion and absolute legend of women’s squash. 

What are your proudest squash moments?
Representing England as a junior. But also switching to Pakistan aged 19, to follow in my family’s footsteps and become the first female Khan squash professional. On doing so, they held the first women’s Pakistan open in 2005 and I won the tournament, making history for women and Pakistan squash.

What other squash successes have you had?
As a player, I was a top England junior, winning multiple titles, including European Junior champion. I then went on to become the Pakistan women’s number 1 for many years, reaching a career high ranking of 21 in the world before retiring in my prime, aged 27, through injury. Before retiring, I won multiple titles, including El Salvador Open in 2002, Ottawa Open in 2003, Pakistan Open in 2005, Iranian Open in 2007 and the Austrian Open in 2008.

As a coach, I have travelled the world, coaching in numerous countries, including Iran, Pakistan and America. I have mainly focused on helping and developing women and girls.

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