'Was Used As Bait To Manage Egos Of Male Tennis Stars': Sania Mirza

PUBLISHED ON: July 14, 2016 | Duration: 49 min, 45 sec

She is the world number 1 in women's doubles tennis and she is just out with her memoirs - Ace Against Odds. Sania Mirza on NDTV's special series The Townhall speaks about the controversies and the questions that she has had to face on her patriotism, her religion and the fact that she is married to a Pakistani. Speaking on the controversy before the London Olympics, she said she was used "as bait" to manage the egos of male tennis stars Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. "They were trying to please Mahesh to a certain extent and Leander to a certain extent and in the process they forgot that there was another person," she said and added that "we had an unbelievable chance for a medal and it went to the dogs".

Here are the highlights:

• We were in US when I decided to play tennis, but it was a luxury my parents just couldn't afford.
• It's destiny and fate; If I hadn't come back from US, I would never have become a tennis player.
• I was bullied off the court as a kid by my cousins saying you are a girl and you can't play tennis.
• My struggles were no less; everything my parents were earning was going into my tennis.
• We would travel in our 'dieselified' car to tennis tournaments and stay in it to save on hotel bills.
• Life is still a struggle, though of different kind; it's easier to get to the top than to stay at the top.
• We are still middle class minded family and proud of it; money and fame haven't changed my morals and ethics.
• I have a form of arthritis; I have learnt to live with it. As an athlete, a lot is about mind over matter.
• It is not about money or fame, it never was; it's about the game itself, about winning, about competing.
• Hillary Clinton or Sania Mirza - it is tougher when you are a woman.
• Women expected to be presentable looking to become superstars; for male athletes looks are never an issue.
• Is she marketable - that's how women achievers are looked at.
• Women first have to believe that they are equal; a lot of women in this part of the world don't.
• There's more to being a woman than cooking and having kids.
• People generally don't like opinionated women; they want women to be second grade citizens in the world.
• We live in a man's world; it's the equality that I am fighting for.
• I was used as a bait to manage male tennis stars, and that's when I was the highest of everybody that was playing.
• In pleasing Mahesh and Leander, officials forgot I was also there; I felt extremely insulted.
• Mahesh and me were India's best chance to win a medal; we lost that chance in the game of egos.
• I am a practicing Muslim, but I am not perfect, no one is.
• Just before a shoot for TIME magazine cover, I cried in my room for 45 minutes; I was tired of controversies.
• Nobody has a right to question my Indianness or say whether I should live in this country or not.
• I am targeted maybe because I am a woman, I am opinionated and I say what I feel.
• How we transported Shoaib from Dubai to Mumbai to Hyderabad hiding him from media is like a blockbuster movie.
• People felt cheated that I married Shoaib; it was a weird kind of love, they felt protective and possessive about me.
• Shoaib and I have never had a conversation about changing nationalities.
• I find it appalling how people judge people on nationality, religion, race and colour.
• How can people say don't talk to this person, he doesn't follow your God or don't marry this person, he is from Pak. These are retarded comments to say the least.
• On people questioning her patriotism: 'We are a country of 1.2 billion people; everyone can't make sense'.
• I am sick of 'who will you support in an India-Pakistan match' question.
• Would like to have kids at some point after I stop playing tennis.
Sania Mirza to Nurture Next Generation of Indian Tennis

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