Sania Mirza, India’s premier tennis woman has backed out of playing at the Bangalore Open later next month. This has sent a shock around the country because besides being Asia’s highest ranking woman, she is also an icon of a young resurgent India.
Hats off to her to come out and honestly state why she is not playing. It takes guts to do that. And the blame for her not playing squarely lies on two parties. The first is the Islamic fundamentalist within our country who have raised a hue and cry about what she wears as a Muslim woman. Similar fuss was created when Sania was recently seen “disrespecting” (sic ! ) the Indian tricolor by letting it rest near her feet. And the second party to take the blame is the establishment….both political and professional tennis.
The government should have come out strongly and refuted the Islamist fundamentalist claims that she is not being a true Muslim woman because she wears skirts! And at the same time also come out and categorically state that she did not insult the flag. And the Indian Tennis body should have stood up in unison and asked people to back off and let her do what she does best. A “BCCI for Bhajji” show of strength effort was needed but sadly Sania was on her own here.
Sania has brought a lot of fame to India in her young career and has become an icon to loads of girls who are weilding the tennis racquets in courts all over the country.
Sania has enough reason to fear for her safety. Not too long ago one will remember that the same Islamist fundamentalist went out and attacked Taslima at a public function. And images of Monica Seles, the one time tennis great being knifed on court come to mind. And there is a very strong possibility that something like this could happen to her.
Some of the tennis stars of today and yesteryears have not come out in support of her in as voiciferousÂ a manner as would be expected.
I hope that this will send a loud enough message to the government and the professional tennis body to stand up and be heard when it is necessary.
Sania, my respect for you just went up a couple of notches. You go girl !