Sania's journey to the Grand Slam: How she braced through controversies
Features Sunday, July 12, 2015 - 05:30
Sania Mirza teamed up with former world number one Martina Hingis on Saturday to win a thrilling women's doubles final in the 2015 edition of the Wimbledon championships. The win marked a first Wimbledon title for Mirza, who is ranked the number one female doubles player. The 28-year-old tennis player has been showered with praise for her remarkable win with various people including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi extending his congratulations. However, while everyone looks at her accomplishments, the journey was definitely not easy for her. From being issued a 'fatwa to cover up' to being called "Pakistan's daughter-in-law by a BJP leader in Telangana, the young sports star has braced it all. Fatwa to 'cover up' In September 2005, a group of Muslim clerics issued a religious diktat or a 'fatwa' demanding that Mirza's skirts and T-shirts were "un-Islamic" and "corrupting" and asked her cover up during matches, recommending that she wear long tunics and headscarves to play. "The dress she wears on the tennis courts not only doesn't cover large parts of her body but leaves nothing to the imagination," a Muslim cleric was quoted by The Guardian as saying. A statement on safe-sex In November 2005, Sania's comments at a leadership summit in Delhi triggered mass outrage after she was quoted as saying that whether before or after marriage, the most important matter was that sex was safe. Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh said that young stars like Sania Mirza should behave with dignity in inspiring youngsters while some Muslim leaders also condemned the statement. Mirza's effigy was burned amid protests in her home state of Andhra Pradesh and she had to withdraw her statement since, BBC reported. Mecca Masjid controversy In 2007, Sania and an advertising agency were heavily criticized by Muslim leaders for shooting a promotional campaign for Hyderabad's heritage site Charminar at Mecca Masjid. A case was also booked on her and the advertising agency under various sections of the IPC related to trespassing. In an apology that she released later, she said ''While I am fully aware that a woman must not enter the sanctity of the mosque, I was unaware that even entering the outer gates of a mosque was seriously objectionable, specially without permission, which I was assured by the agency they possessed,'' Disrespecting India's national flag During the 2008 Australian Open, on New Year's day when Sania was 21-years old, a picture of her sitting with her feet resting on a table next to an Indian flag resulted in her facing prosecution under the Prevention of Insult to the National Honour Act. She responded saying that the pose was accidental and that she would not do anything to disrespect the country. Using her as 'bait' During the 2012 Olympics, both Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna refused to play in the men's doubles event with Leander Paes. Following this, Paes was paired with Mirza for the mixed doubles event. Mirza in a statement, accused the All India Tennis Association(AITA) of using her as 'bait' to keep Paes happy as she wanted to play with Bhupathi, who was a long time friend.The pair lost in the quarterfinals of the mixed doubles. Read her full statement here. Calling her "Pakistan's daughter-in-law" Two days after the tennis star was appointed the brand ambassador for the state of Telangana, Telangana BJP leader K Laxman questioned her credentials for the honour, calling her a "non-local." He also went on to call her the "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan, pointing out that she was married to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. Watch her response to the statement here.