Sania Mirza has earned more fans with her outburst at the All India Tennis Association (AITA) in their handling of the Leander Paes vs Mahesh Bhupathi clash which led to her being used as “a bait” in the Olympic selection row.
Firstly, not many current sportspersons take on their association the way Sania has and secondly, she drove home a message that women ought to be treated with far greater respect.
The AITA deserve all the brickbats they have received so far in this issue because they directed the Olympic selectors to pick Paes and Bhupathi as a doubles pair when both tennis stalwarts are not on talking terms. Did they expect both to kiss and make up and eventually return with a medal? Sport can be complex business at times. In this case, it certainly is when you pair two players who don’t even want to look at each other, forget doing their famous chest bumps on court.
Paes finds himself at the receiving end of Sania’s hard talk. Sure, he has been a great champion and the fact that he is approaching his sixth Olympics is a heavyweight of an achievement. However, he didn’t push himself up the popularity charts when he showed reluctance to partner a junior player (Vishnu Vardhan). Sania did well to send out a reminder on Tuesday when she said: “To Leander Paes, I would like to point out that Vishnu Vardhan is an extremely talented player, who I had the privilege of partnering. We went on to win a silver medal for India at the 2010 Asian Games, when all the three male stalwarts of Indian tennis had opted to stay away from Guangzhou. I am convinced that he can go one better when pitted with someone as good as Leander as partner.”
Sania would have sounded more balanced had she slammed Bhupathi in the same measure. None-the-less she has surely fired in a memorable winner.