Sania, tennis and controversies: How she coped?
New Delhi: Ever since she started playing tennis, Sania Mirza's life has been mired with controversies. Sometimes slammed by Muslim clerics for wearing clothes her religion doesn't allow, sometimes for disrespecting the national flag and sometimes for choosing her life partner from another land, she has seen it all.
But Sania Mirza has learned the art of shrugging them off, and better focus on her game rather than controversies outside the tennis court.
“I think that controversies have helped me grow in a lot of different ways,” she told Gulf News after moving into the doubles final here at the China Open on Friday.
“I really don’t know if the controversies were following me or they were being put on me. That’s debatable and it’s just a matter of opinion.
“But I think that’s all in the past and there have not been too many controversies that have taken place in my life in the past two years or so now. I think it’s really in the past.”
The last controversy to cross her path, though unwittingly, was earlier this year after both Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna refused to partner Leander Paes in the men’s doubles at the London Olympics,
In return, Paes demanded to have Mirza as his mixed doubles partner, leading a furious Mirza to lash out at the All India Tennis Association (AITA) for using her as ‘bait’ to keep Paes happy. She had originally decided to partner Bhupathi, with whom she has won two Grand Slams.
In the past, people have questioned Mirza’s loyalty to the land of her birth following her marriage to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malek, but she has time and again clarified her loyalty.
So when she was the only one seen without an Indian flag at the London Games opening ceremony, Mirza had to clarify her position. “To see the national flag go up while standing on the podium is the proudest moment in an athlete’s life,” she had said.
However, after years of consistently being mired in controversies, Mirza believes she has found the ideal way to circumvent them — by keeping away from unwanted tensions in her life. “Maybe people don’t want to create any controversy about me any more. Who knows?” she said.
“I have no idea why, but perhaps you should ask the people who created the controversies. I didn’t [create them],” Gulf News quoted Sania as saying.