Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal, both of Hyderabad, are India’s shining sports faces worldwide. They have been India’s best women stars in two elite disciplines, tennis and badminton, respectively. They have shown that Indian women are rising and they are inferior to none in sporting world. They have brought heaps of laurels to the country and to themselves.
Down and out recently, two Hyderabadi women were up and bouncing in 2014. Sania along with Cara Black bagged the prestigious WTA Tour Finals doubles title in Singapore. The pair outplayed and outclassed defending champions, Peng Shuai and Hsieh Su-Wei, 6-1, 6-0. The vanquished lost this match after winning 12 titles.
“This is perhaps best moment of my career after a wonderful run I have had in recent weeks”, said jubilant Sania, adding: “This title is better than some I have won in recent weeks”. “I could not have asked for a better finish”, declared elated 27-year-old Sania. “I am, however, sad that I will not be able to partner Cara in near future as she is planning for a second child”, said Sania. With this fantastic win, she nurtures a sanguine hope that she will be No 1 in women’s doubles.
Sania was all praise of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, as he convinced her to participate in the Asian Games. She did and won glory. She feels Indian sports and sportspersons are safe under his dynamic personality. “It is amazing the way he encourages sportspersons” said she.
In the China Open final, Saina, the 2012 London Olympics bronze medal winner, played flawless game out-witting Akane Yamaguchi (Japan) 21-12, 22-20, in 42 minutes. The victory became all the more sweet to her as she had parted company with her coach, Pullela Gopi Chand and joined Vimal Kumar academy in Bengaluru. The change of coach provided her the much needed peace of mind, which is essential for success in razor-sharp international competitions.
According to critics, both have achieved resounding success on courts owing to their unprecedented dedication and devotion in their disciplines in addition to staying a model of modesty and humility.
Based on her performances and popularity in the sphere of tennis, Sania has been drafted as the United Nations Women’s goodwill ambassador for the South Asian region, joining the campaign to end violence against women and girls as also raise awareness on gender equality. Like Sania, Saina has also achieved a lot of international recognition outside badminton court.
“It is difficult to be a Sania Mirza in this country” says Sania, adding: “There is an urgent need to bring about a cultural change to reduce prevailing ‘gender inequality’. Explaining that she has faced innumerable difficulties during her sporting career, said she, adding: “Many of the controversies would not have surfaced if she was not a woman”. Determined to play a leading role for the ‘gender equality’, Sania said: “I will stand up and advocate for it, regardless of pitfalls and difficulties”.
“People forget that celebrities are also humans and we also feel bad”, said Sania, while accusing media for writing half-baked stories. “I don’t believe in negativity within but it is not possible to ignore or laugh off the untrue stories”, said Sania, married to Pakistan star cricket player, Shoaib Akhtar. She hit headlines when she was branded as ‘Pakistan’s daughter-in-law’ after being designated the brand ambassador of the newly formed state, Telangana.
Like Sania, many celebrities in Bollywood and sporting world scream for ‘privacy’. They stay blissfully unconcerned that ‘privacy will remain personal only when they exercise privacy’.