Breaking her silence for the first time on the selection controversy, India's Sania Mirza Tuesday hit out at Leander Paes for demanding a written assurance from her to take part in the mixed doubles of the Olympics
Sania chose to end her silence on the day when she, along with Somdev Dev Varman, were given wildcard entries for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
"Since the day AITA announced the team for the Olympics, a lot of questions have been raised by friends, colleagues, their parents and of course, by the media. As I thought these questions were purely hypothetical without my having qualified into the London Olympics, I did not think it was appropriate for me to respond to them at that point of time. However, now that I am officially a part of the greatest sporting event in the world, I think it is imperative for me to clarify my feelings," said Sania in a statement.
Sania praised rookie Vishnu Vardhan, who has been paired with Paes in the men's doubles event at the Olympics.
She said it was "demeaning for me, Vishnu and Leander Paes" for Paes to consider playing with Vishnu only if she gave a written assurance to play mixed doubles with him.
"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."
"For Leander to consider partnering with Vishnu only if he has a written assurance from me to play mixed (as (Paes' father) Vece uncle has suggested in his television interviews) is, I think demeaning for me, Vishnu and Leander Paes," she said.
Paes reportedly wanted a written assurance from the All India Tennis Association (AITA) that Sania will play only with him in the mixed doubles in the Olympics and not with Mahesh Bhupathi, her regular partner on the tour. Sania and Bhupathi recently had won the French Open mixed doubles.
Video courtesy: NDTV
Sania, however, on her part have always maintained that he wants to play with Bhupathi in the mixed doubles in Olympics but was happy with anybody AITA picked to partner her.
The AITA first picked Paes and Bhupathi to play the men's doubles. But they were forced to send two teams after Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, who are also regular partners on the circuit, refused to team up with Paes.
While allowing Bhupathi and Bopanna to have their way, the AITA made it clear that Sania will only pair with Paes in the mixed doubles, where they have a real chance of winning a medal.