“...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 said. -Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI: Sania Mirza has accused the India tennis federation of using her as “bait” to placate doubles specialist Leander Paes as discontent continues to rumble over the country's controversial selection process for the Olympics.

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) was forced backtrack and field two men's doubles teams for the London Games after both Mahesh Bhupathi and regular partner Rohan Bopanna refused to play with the country's top-ranked doubles player Paes.

Last Thursday, AITA defused the row by announcing that Paes would partner Vishnu Vardhan while the Bhupathi-Bopanna partnership would remain intact for the July 27-Aug. 12 Games.

The federation also said Paes would partner Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles, something perceived as a compromise for the men's doubles world number seven after AITA's plan to send the strongest men's team on paper came undone.

“...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 said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The whole episode reeked of “male chauvinism”, the 25-year-old added, feeling she had been “offered as compensation to partner one of the feuding champions to lure him into accepting to play with a men's player he does not wish to play with”.

“This kind of blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood needs to be condemned even if it comes from the highest controlling body of tennis in our country,” added Mirza, who is based in Dubai following her marriage to former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik.

AITA president Anil Khanna was not available for comments.

Mirza, who prefers Bhupathi as her mixed doubles partner having won the French Open title together earlier this month, said she was ready to play with whoever she was paired with and it would not affect her performance in London.

“...I can assure all my countrymen that I shall never allow these difficult circumstances to come in the way of giving my very best when the Games begin,” she said.

Mirza, who has dropped to 246th in the WTA singles rankings, won her only tournament at the Hyderabad Open in 2005 and was once ranked as high as number 27 in the world.

Opinion

Danger lurks
27 Sep 2021

Danger lurks

The colonial mindset continues to percolate.
Dance of death
Updated 27 Sep 2021

Dance of death

India is happily flirting with extermination.
Climate of change
Updated 26 Sep 2021

Climate of change

The world faces a climate emergency as the toll on people’s lives and livelihoods keeps growing.

Editorial

Phasing out coal
Updated 27 Sep 2021

Phasing out coal

Move affords Pakistan an opportunity to renegotiate its deals with Beijing to convert them into cheaper, clean energy projects.
27 Sep 2021

Poor online score

A RECENT report by Freedom House, the US-based watchdog that assesses democratic trends around the world, has placed...
27 Sep 2021

Child’s mental capacity

CONVERTING to another faith is one of the most consequential decisions an individual can make in their lifetime. It...
Updated 26 Sep 2021

Intransigent Taliban

PRIME MINISTER Imran Khan has delivered an effective speech at the UN General Assembly session detailing the salient...
26 Sep 2021

Deadly misinformation

THE distinction between ‘fake’ and ‘authentic’ news is now a concept impossible to escape. In an...
26 Sep 2021

Covid arrests

THE unilateral decision taken by Karachi’s East Zone police to arrest citizens without Covid vaccination cards ...