Sania Mirza can be called, without a doubt, as a sportsperson who has revolutionized the way tennis is seen as a sport in India. By representing India in all the major Grand Slams, she has made the entire nation proud. The tennis world could not escape from her charm as well. This girl from Hyderabad has not only earned her position in the international circuit with her strong forehand and powerful stokes, but also won the hearts of millions through her innocent smile.
Watch any match of hers in any part of the world and one can see diehard Indians shouting “Saniaaaaaaaa…Saniaaaaa” on top of their voices. She has garnered interest from not only the Indian media but the world media as well. Being featured on the cover of the coveted Times magazine, being awarded the Laureus sports award, beating top players like Marina Hingis, Svetlana Kuznetsova or Nadia Petrova, wining a WTA event (which is a record of sorts) are just some of the accomplishments which prove that she has arrived.
In India, also she is the pin-up star for thousands of kids and teenagers who see her as not only as a sports icon but as a youth icon as well. She has single handedly harnessed the attention that was required to boost the once not so well known game of Tennis.
Tennis camps have cropped up in the most unlikely of places and even youngsters are not shying away and have taken to this game in a big way. In a country where cricket is nothing short of religion, Sania has definitely made her mark.
Although Sania is riding high on her accomplishments, (she held a career high ranking of 26 a few months back) she is always being hounded by controversies and unwanted criticism. Whether it is a fatwa issued against her for wearing a short skirt while playing, or filming an ad in a Hyderabad Mosque or, more recently, her disrespect to the National Flag , it seems no matter what she does off field, nothing seems right.
She has been burdened with frivolous court cases by attention seeking advocates who see her as a ticket to fame. She is accused of showing disrespect to the flag and hurting national sentiments so much so that she has decided against playing in India. Isn’t it preposterous? The same girl who is responsible for Indian representation at the international level is accused of showing disrespect to the flag. If an India flag is fluttering in Roland Garros or the Rod Laver Arena or any other Grand Slam it is only because of her!
Sania is barely out of her teens and such kind of unnecessary pressure is hampering not only her game but her mind too. We can’t let such kind of a thing happen to our sports stars. Such type of cases should not only be barred, but people should be punished who take advantage of celebrities to get their fifteen seconds of fame. With the Supreme Court staying all the cases against her, it is a move in the right direction. And we can only hope that our icons focus on their form on the “court” rather than off it.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattlogelin/398948970/]