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'Sania denied fairy-tale ending: suffers loss in AUS open final' says a news headline. Is this the best we can do? Is it a fitting tribute to one of the finest athletes we have in our country?
Sania Mirza bid an emotional and tearful farewell to her Grand Slam journey as a runner up in the mixed doubles final. Headlines read –
“Sania Mirza breaks down in tears while recalling glorious career after defeat in Grand Slam’
“Sania denied fairy-tale ending: suffers loss in AUS open final”
Is this the best we can do? Is it a fitting tribute to one of the finest athletes we have in our country?
More than once Sania has proved that she is a feminist badass icon that we all need to look up to. For as long as one can remember, she has been subjecting to trolling and criticism for her career, religion and personal life.
Sania Mirza dreamt of playing tennis since she was a little girl and the road to her success has been anything but easy. In the year 2005 she was ridiculed and judged for the clothes she was wearing and was asked to cover up. An orthodox Muslim clergy issued a fatwa stating that the clothes she wears on the tennis court leaves nothing to a person’s imagination. She was asked to cover up as she would corrupt young minds.
She replied by saying, ”As long as I am winning, people shouldn’t care whether my skirt is six inches long or 6 feet long.”
The very love for her country and patriotism was questioned when she married a Pakistani cricketer. Many assumed that she would stop playing for India and there were others who said that she shouldn’t recognised as an Indian citizen anymore.
She was wished “Happy Independence day” by a troll on the 14th of August 2018 to which she politely replied, “Jee nahin.. mera aur mere country ka Independence Day kal hai, aur mere husband aur unnki country ka aaj!! Hope your confusion is cleared!!Waise aapka kab hai?? Since you seem very confused ..” (No… my country’s Independence Day is tomorrow, and my husband’s country’s is today! Hope your confusion is cleared. When is your Independence Day? Since you seem very confused…)
Time and time again she has shut down trolls who have ridiculed her and judged her. She had tweeted about the gruesome rape of an 8 year old in Kathua and in turn was asked by a troll to remember that she had married a Pakistani so she should refrain from commenting on India’s problems. She retorted back by saying that she will always be an Indian and no one can tell her which country she belongs to.
“First of all nobody marries ‘into’ anywhere .. you marry a person! Secondly NO LOW LIFE like you will tell me which country I belong to.. I play for India,I am Indian and always will be.. nd maybe if u look beyond religion and country one day you may just also stand for humanity!”
It is worth mentioning that Sania Mirza has been a former doubles world no.1 and was ranked by the Women’s Tennis association as India’s no.1 in singles. She has won six major Grand Slam titles in her illustrious career and has established herself as one of the most influential and top athletes of India.
We all know how brutally Sania Mirza is trolled whenever there is an India-Pakistan match. Everyone wonders which team she will support. How sad is that she then attracts hostility by not one but two countries. I remember when she was posed this question in an interview asking which country she supports.
Responding to which she replied, ”I am married to a person who is from a different country but that doesn’t decrease my love for my country, he (Malik) is doing his job for his country and I am doing mine i.e. to make ours country proud as much as we can in our fields. I want him (Malik) to score a century in every match he played. But when he is playing against India then he scores a century but at the end of the match India should win the match. So then I am happy for both (Soaib has played well and India has won the match)”
How can we forget the time when journalist Rajdeep Sardesai questioned her during an interview when she plans to settle down?
In his own words “Amidst all the celebrityhood, when is Sania going to settle down? Is it going to be in Dubai? Is it going to be in another country? What about motherhood? Building a family? I don’t see that in the book. It seems like you don’t want to retire yet to settle down.”
Hasn’t every woman been asked this question and been subjected to this sexism at some point in their life and the irony of the situation is that inspite of having a successful career that many can only dream of, someone like Sania was asked the same question. Does a woman’s life ultimately boil down to marriage and having kids?
All eyes were on Sania as to what she would reply and she definitely didn’t disappoint. Her reply inspired every girl to never give up on her dreams and every women to remember that she is more than her marriage and motherhood.
Her reply stunned Rajdeep who then apologised profusely for the inappropriate question and agreed that he shouldn’t have asked her the same. Her reply brought pride to every woman who watched her.
“You don’t think I’m settled? You sound disappointed that I am not choosing motherhood over being No.1 in the world at this point of time. But I’ll answer your question anyway. This is one of the questions, as women, that we have to face all the time…Unfortunately, that’s when we are settled and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or No.1s we become, we don’t become ‘settled’.”
“I hope a few years from now, a girl, when she is 29 isn’t asked the question about when she is going to have a child when she is No.1 in the world.”
Sania is an icon and a trail blazer in women’s sport in India. She symbolises determination, hard work, grit and fearlessness. Her legacy will live on for years to come as young girls look up to her for inspiration. We look forward to seeing her play in many more tournaments where she makes her country and its citizens proud. In her own words, “The moral? ‘Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something,’ she said. ‘Even if nobody else has done it before.”
Thank you for all that you’ve done in tennis, for inspiring millions and for being a ‘True Indian’.
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