Sania Mirza is Correct

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 voiciferous  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 !


  1. Vivek Kumar February 5, 2008

    I agree with most of what you say, but I found this bit rather strange:

    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!

    I don’t think it is the GoI’s business to interpret whether someone is, or is not, being a true Muslim, whatever that may mean. I would understand if you called upon Islamic organizations to express support, but you haven’t done that. Was that deliberate? If yes, why?

    About the flag issue as well.. the GoI doesn’t need to say anything. There is a judicial system to deal with such cases. It is sad that the courts continue to admit such frivolous petitions, but I am quite sure that the charges would not stand judicial scrutiny, just as they didn’t in the Infosys-Anthem case.

  2. Biplob Kishore Deb February 6, 2008

    I think, India’s tennis federation can help Sania Mirza out on the ever increasing controversies mounting on her. She has been making headlines for the wrong reasons on the off-court issues. Indian government also gives a close look over the matter. Sania Mirza has become an idol to many Indian girls. So, it is the responsibility of Indian government and more of tennis authority of India to ensure the young girls will not leave the tennis racquets seeing all this things happening with the country’s top rated tennis star.

  3. arZan February 6, 2008


    What I meant to say was that the government should have strongly come out against the Islamist fundamentalists and put a stop to this nonsense. As regards other Islamic organisations coming out in her support….well have you ever seen them come out to voice against the fundamentalists. They have not opened their mouths in the aftermath of terrorist attacks ! What will they open their mouths now.

    And yes sadly we are getting to be a litigious society like the US. The courts are over burdened with cases but they still allow such stupid and frivolous suits. You are right on that point. The government has other things to tackle. I stand corrected.

    Biplob, I could not agree with you more in principle.

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