Mirza sought respect from Olympic statement
Sania Mirza thought she owed it to herself to release a passionate public statement addressing the Indian Olympic controversy, where she felt like bait in the politicking between the All India Tennis Association (AITA) and male players Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. After Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna both refused to play doubles with Paes, the AITA tried to placate Paes by guaranteeing he would play mixed doubles with Mirza if he consented to playing men's doubles with the inexperienced Vishnu Vardhan. Mirza won the 2012 Roland Garros mixed doubles title with Bhupathi, but was never consulted about the decision.
Mirza released a lengthy statement on Tuesday where she wrote: "As an Indian woman belonging to the 21st century, what I find disillusioning is the humiliating manner in which I was put up as a bait to try and pacify one of the disgruntled stalwarts of Indian tennis."
Mirza had not spoken about it publicly until Friday at Wimbledon, when she told TENNIS.com that she thought she owed it to herself to address the issues and felt like she had the right to do so.
"It was about putting what I felt out there," Mirza said. "If my name is mentioned somewhere and I don't agree, and if they are going to put me in situation without having spoken to me about it, I have a problem. I would say that about any situation in my life. I think everyone wants a certain amount of respect regardless of what you've achieved. It's about having self respect and people respecting who you are as human being and everyone getting equal from the same organization. I don't think that I did get equal treatment, but I said what I said and I don't want to keep harping on it during Wimbledon, which is very important to me."
Mirza said that she hasn’t spoken to the Federation or Paes, who said on Thursday that he did not want to mix politics with sport, but added: "Every Olympics has some nonsense coming with it. For me I know how much hard work goes into what I do and people chose to respect it and I am very lucky that most of India does. If people chose to disrespect it then that is their choice."
Mirza has expressed a preference to play mixed doubles with Bhupathi at the London Olympics, but said she is willing to play with Paes and praised him as being a high-level player. At Wimbledon, she's playing mixed with Bhupathi, who sacrificed "the commitment he made to me to try and win an Olympic medal together for India," said Mirza in her statement. The two have spoken at Wimbledon and patched things up. Bhupathi said this week that he could understand why Mirza was upset.
"We've had a relationship and been friends for a long time and we are close, so it’s a bit easier to talk to him about it," Mirza said. "But it came as shock to him what I wrote because we had spoken on personal level before."—Matt Cronin