Last week, Sania Mirza won the Wimbledon Doubles title along with Martina Hingis. Shortly after, Martina Hingis also tied up with Leander Paes to win the Mixed Doubles title as well.
The responses to both the victories were strange. About Leander Paes, everybody spoke of what a legend he was, how he was still fit at 42, and all of that. But coming to Sania Mirza, the reaction was more or less – ‘meh!’.
Somehow, Sania Mirza has faced more brickbats than boquets in her decade long career in tennis. These are some of the grudges we have against her.
SHE’S JUST A DOUBLES PLAYER:
Most Indians with an opinion on Sania Mirza have never really played any sport at any level, leave alone tennis. Yet, their constant grudge is that she only plays doubles. ‘Singles khelke dikhao, toh hum maane’, is the constant crib. Well, she is the world’s No.1 doubles player. No Indian tennis player as ever reached the No.1 spot in the sport, man or woman. In fact, her highest singles ranking was 27, and comparing it with the other tennis players in India, is laughably ahead of her counterparts. No Indian has ever gotten into the Top 50 in the sport. And yet, we keep making lame excuses when it comes to Sania Mirza.
A few years ago, Sania Mirza was more in the news for her controversies than her game. While one was about her raising her legs in front of a national flag (even though it was taken from a particular angle by some creative photographer). There were Muslim groups that had problems with her outfit while playing tennis. This has always flummoxed me. One would assume that Sania would be an inspiration among the Muslim community. Yet, all she faced was Muslim scholars (using all their profound knowledge), commenting on her outfit. She’s playing tennis, for heaven’s sake. What do you want her to wear? A burkha??
Far from being hailed as an inspirational figure, she has been constantly harassed by the Indian media.
There’s no other way to put it out. For most Indians, Sania Mirza is seen as an object. Google Sania Mirza and check out the most common suggestions that Google comes up with. Go to YouTube and search for her videos, you’ll find slow-mo videos of her during a match, taken by a voyeur sitting in the front row. As if things couldn’t be any more shameful, someone found a porn clip and claimed it was hers. A huge hue and cry followed, and an international sportsperson, instead of motivating youngsters to take up the sport, was justifying to the media that it wasn’t her in a porn clip. And we claim to be a developed nation!
SHE MARRIED SHOAIB MALIK:
I can understand her having a fan following in India, but when news broke out that she was engaged to Shoaib Malik, people lost their minds. She was accused of selling out to Pakistan, and posters of her in shady Pakistan ads – like Sania Bhabhi Gutkha – did the rounds. We live in the 21st century, and if she wants to marry someone, it is her choice. Imagine the celebration if an Indian cricketer marries a Pakistani actress – it’d seem like we won a war! But since it was one of our women marrying one of their men, it strangely came across as an insult to Indian men. As if she was going to search through Facebook, find that outraged fan, and propose marriage to that guy!
Instead of celebrating a sportsperson who has achieved success and recognition in a sport, we have constantly ridiculed, objectified, and harrassed Sania Mirza.
May be it’s because she is a woman. Perhaps because she is Muslim. Or may be, because she is an Indian.
May be we are like this only!