Sense, sensibility, and Sania Mirza

A friend, Mehul Shah, sent me this note in mail just now:

Sania Mirza is probably the saddest story in Indian sports these days. What seemed to be the start to a very promising career in 2005 has turned out to be a forgettable journey so far. I have been following her on Twitter for 3 months but hardly any tweet on her tennis or her insights into the world of tennis. I know she is recovering from an injury but sure she has better things to tweet about than the parties she attends and the personal travel she undertakes. The most shocking was a few weeks back: “Tennis is not my hobby, only my profession. Relaxing at home and watching movies is!” Not sure who was last forced to take up sports as a profession, that too in a country like India. Thousands of sports enthusiasts [count me in] would die to have the life/opportunity she got and she is just wasting it. A very good coach I know here in the US simply loves her simple yet powerful groundstokes and even told me once if her serve was as good as her groundies, she could be a top 10 player. I used to admire her for her ability to rise above the barriers that our society poses over minority / women especially for sports, not any more!

Sania Mirza’s Twitter stream.

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24 thoughts on “Sense, sensibility, and Sania Mirza

  1. good job. u censored my statement, but couldn’t censor shit when that Australian was talking down to us Indians back in ’08.

  2. AM back to this blog As I wanted to re-comment. I am not proud of the way I have commented earlier…and more so…after we are bombarded everyday with news, views, shockers and much more by the media. I’ve had enough. Its her life. The media hounds people like they are public property.

    Who are we to comment or judge their choices. One never knows what makes two people tick except they themselves. Its high time we left them well alone! Well…am saying the last on this.

    Sania and Shoaib…its your life! Do as you think best!

  3. I don’t think public can impose on an individual what one should pursue as a hobby or a profession. Personally I agree she’s been disappointing on many fronts but finally its her life her choices. And if Pakistan Tennis Federation Cheif’s comment is anyway close to reality, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/events-tournaments/sania-shoaib-wedding/Sania-should-follow-tradition-play-for-Pakistan-after-marriage-PTF-chief/articleshow/5750280.cms , she might as well be playing for Pakistan in near future 🙂

    • IMHO, she didn’t marry Shoaib, so that she can play for pak. It is more likely she wanted to stop all the games in her life and get settled. Unless Shoaib is willing to travel around with her on the tour, I dont see her picking up a racket as a professional player again.

      People can wish what they want. It is more probable that she can coach Pak women’s players rather than play herself.

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  5. Mahek :
    I’m sorry but I don’t like celebrating mediocrity when there is excellence in the form of MC Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal to look up to. Women who are dedicated to their sport and don’t waste time trying to come up with excuses when they lose. I pity women who look at her as their idol. But hey, it’s always style over substance, isn’t it?

    Oh, really? She is mediocre? Then you don’t the whole story behind her. She fought against her society to battle into the tennis-world, reached a career high of 27 in the women’s circuit. And did she had talent? NO. She is not athletically built, at 5’8″ she is shorter than almost every top-player on the tour, and apart from her forehand, she never had any real weapon. Yet she boasts a Grand Slam mixed doubles title, and a singles high ranking of 27. She may not be an icon, but she has done more than enough to make me admire her.

    Lets not compare Saina Nehwal and Mirza. I’m a big fan of Nehwal, but you can easily say that the lack of glamor and she being in a less popular sport definitely helped her to stay focused and apart from all the attention that Mirza had to deal with.

    Easy to criticize, difficult to admire.

  6. @Ameya
    That statement makes as much sense as saying “Saudi Arabia is the most tolerant and secular country”. Hence it warrants an explanation!

  7. “Not sure who was last forced to take up sports as a profession, that too in a country like India. Thousands of sports enthusiasts [count me in] would die to have the life/opportunity she got and she is just wasting it.”

    Andre Agassi would be one such BIG example. He never shies away from saying that he hates tennis (read his autobiography). There are many more examples (Maria Sharapova) especially in tennis.

    Moreover, being a professional athlete is an extremely demanding task. Sports is fun and the best-thing-in-the-world as long as it is taken as a hobby, but becomes difficult once you take it as a serious profession. Not everyone can take it — Vinod Kambli would be one example, Marat Safin is another.

    I do not blame Sania completely. She had more than excess pressure on her especially with the media going crazy over her. In fact, at 5’8″ it would have been hard for her to even attain the top-10 ranking (in contemporary tennis, only Justin Henin is shorter than her and a top player…and Sania clearly doesn’t have half the talent that Henin has), so yeah, the Indian media expected too much from Sania. Naturally she succumbed to pressure.

  8. The first mistake she made was getting engaged to her child-hood friend (in response to a male fan stalking her). From then on her career had gone downhill. Atleast when she broke-up with her boy-friend there was some hope. But now I think she is just lost for the game. She could have been a female version of Leander Paes. I can only wonder now, about the what-ifs

  9. This Sania-bashing defies logic. Let’s admit she reached where no Indian women player ever even dreamt of. And if she is happy with whatever she achieved, why others should have problems?

    People should get it right, Sania never had it in her to win a Grand Slam and she is not apologetic about it either.

    I don’t know which anoynous coach is being referred here. But allow me to quote excerpts from a Sania interview given to one of my colleagues.

    “One of the most respected coaches of the world, Bob Brett, who worked with me in my junior days told my dad way back in 2004 that I had some talent but there were a whole lot of weaknesses in my game.

    “According to him, if I worked very hard to overcome those weaknesses, it was possible that, at best, I could achieve a ranking of 30 among the pros. I have managed to go past that already and achieved a career best singles ranking of 27 in the world,” she said.

    That should settle the issue.

  10. Oh well! she sure had potential, but didnt have the will power or work ethic, not a big knock against her, few people have the drive and will power to put in the hard work to reach the pinnacle.

    Good luck with her marriage, Malik is like a train wreck waiting to happen, hopefully she doesnt get hurt in this whole fiasco.

  11. Full disclosure: Long time fan of you (Prem) and lurker. But this series is rubbing me the wrong way. I mean your friend has a point that not everyone in India gets a chance to be a sports star but why does that obligate Sania Mirza or anyone else to only be obsessed with sport and not have an otherwise normal life? I am not a twitter fan but someone tweeting about going to a movie sounds average and normal to me. And it’s no one’s business to judge Mirza for having a normal 20-something year old’s life. No? -ag

    • As simple as that. Her life, hows it anyone’s business to judge what she likes or does? Fine, she was the biggest tennis story in India that did not happen, so what? Thats your regret, not hers. She is living the life she wants to. Her life, her choices, her business. We can follow her tennis, like it, dislike it, but I don’t see how its an obligation on her part to be anything other than what she wants to be. Her choices may be debatable, but its her life to live.

      Seriously, din’t a world #1 recently say, “Okie dudes, thats it for me, I want to start a family”, and quit? So, same criticism holds, no? Family is more important than tennis, ha?? Any fan would give anything to be world #1, and you are just throwing it away… bla bla.

      To us, who read about their personal and professional lives from two different magazines, they both would seem to be so easily separable. To them, they are horribly intertwined, and hence one changes the other.

  12. Ms Mirza was a lost cause years ago. I don’t know how marrying a Pakistani cricketer has caused disillusion among people. They were disillusioned when they thought she could be among the top tennis players in the world. You want a female sports icon? Try Saina Nehwal or MC Mary Kom. Sania Mirza is a disgrace to sport.

    • I disagree. She may not have lived up to the hype but that should not mean we discredit her achievements. In a country where there are very few sporting icons (outside of cricket) and where there are even fewer female sporting icons, she made her way into the top 30 at one point. you cannot climb so high without any talent.

      There have been many sportspersons who have not lived up to their talent. Does Kambli or even Manjrekar evoke such derision? Why is Sania alone being witch hunted here? Is it because she is a woman? Is it because she also happens to be glamorous? Or is it because she chose to wed someone from across the border which is still her personal/family choice?

      • I’m sorry but I don’t like celebrating mediocrity when there is excellence in the form of MC Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal to look up to. Women who are dedicated to their sport and don’t waste time trying to come up with excuses when they lose. I pity women who look at her as their idol. But hey, it’s always style over substance, isn’t it?

  13. I think Saina Nehwal is a better icon than Sania Mirza… but sad that a player with potential not doing justice, hope her personal life is not like her game, just a first round exit.

  14. Concur with your friend. she could have been the icon for so many girls but she faded away. was so impressed with her ability to handle press, media and public thru all the focus warranted and not too thru these years but this last announcement has left me with a sense of being cheated. she could have been the flag bearer for women and their rights…alas she’s taken a beaten path.

    this is purely her personal business but she could have made a more progressive choice. she had all the men she wanted to choose from and more.

  15. This is a good note. But –

    “barriers that our society poses over minority”

    Can you please request your friend Mehul Shah to send another note explaining / elaborating on the above line?

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