Big congratulations to Pakistan’s bahu, Sania Mirza

Published: April 16, 2015

Sania Mirza kept the Indian flag flying high in the Australian Open as she and mixed doubles partner Horia Tecau entered the final on Saturday. PHOTO: AFP

Twelve years after winning the junior Wimbledon doubles title, Sania Mirza, 28, became the first Indian woman to be ranked world number one  in women’s doubles tennis. Mirza’s career highlights include one Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles title, 14 International Tennis Federation (ITF) singles titles, 26 WTA doubles titles, four ITF doubles titles and three mixed-doubles grand slams.

Photo: AFP

Recently, Mirza paired with Swiss legend Martina Hingis, and won the Family Circle Cup. But above all, the win marked the fulfilment of a childhood dream for Mirza.

From a talented junior tennis player to the world’s top ranked doubles player, the journey has not been easy.

Photo: AFP

Many dream, but only a few achieve. Talent is nothing without an enormous amount of hard work behind it. Mirza started playing tennis at the mere age of six. At the age of 16, she lifted the Junior Wimbledon doubles trophy, and in 2007, she reached her highest singles ranking of World number 27. Continuous injuries and on court movement restricted her from climbing higher in the singles ranking. But the fact that she made it to the World’s top 30 was a huge achievement in itself.

In a country where Bollywood stars and cricketers steal the limelight, a young tennis sensation became the sole representative of India at the top level of women’s tennis. Before Sania, India hardly had any female tennis players in the world’s top 100 ranking. Fighting stereotypes and so-called cultural barriers that exist for women in South Asian countries, Mirza stood firm in her battle to make it to the top.

Yet, she has received undue and absurd criticism. Her tennis outfit drew criticism from Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists in India, and during the 2008 Hopman Cup, she was pictured resting her feet towards an Indian flag while watching Rohan Boppana’s match. This was enough to ignite another controversy in India.

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Citing the series of controversies, in 2008, Mirza announced that she would stop participating in tournaments held in India. However, she returned to India to compete in the Common Wealth games in 2010.

After being appointed as the brand ambassador of Telangana state, Mirza was referred to as ‘Pakistan’s bahu (daughter- in-law)’ and was deemed unfit for Indian representation. The remarks made her break out into tears while defending herself during a television show.

Today, as the world’s top ranked doubles tennis player, she is an inspiration for girls, not only in India but also in Pakistan. Both countries face pretty much the same social and cultural pressures. Her success story will indeed motivate girls in this region to pursue not just tennis but their dreams and aspirations in any field. No doubt Mirza’s parents played an important role in her success as well, especially considering the fact that she was initially coached by her father.

Mirza became the first Asian woman to be appointed as a Goodwill ambassador by the United Nations. In 2013, Mirza started the Sania Mirza Tennis Academy, which aims to provide world class tennis facilities to Indian youngsters.

Mirza has enjoyed great support and love from Pakistan throughout her career. In Pakistan, she’s commonly referred as Sania ‘bhabi.’ Her rise to world number one made headlines in all Pakistani news channels and newspapers, and the news was celebrated with great fervour all around the country. It is amazing how tennis brings the two countries on the same page. The doubles team of Aisamul Haq and Bopanna also received mutual support from both countries.

Photo: AFP

What Mirza has achieved for India truly demands admiration and respect, and it can be hoped that many young girls will see her feat as a ray of hope. It will also make many parents in India and Pakistan realise that our girls, if given enough opportunities, can do wonders.

We wish Sania bhabi good luck with her future endeavours and we hope that she will retain the number one spot for as long as possible.

Pakistan has, is, and always will support Mirza in her efforts.

A big congrats to Sania Mirza from Pakistan!

Ali Bin Rizwan

Ali Bin Rizwan

The author is a student at LUMS and is general sports fan and tennis enthusiast. He tweets @CounterPunccher (twitter.com/CounterPunccher)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • cool champ

    Author – Please correct your last line. Sania Mirza is from India and not Pak.Recommend

  • Nasir

    She is not Pakistan’s Bahu.. so let’s get this straight here. Now I’ll read your article.. to see if it makes sense.Recommend

  • JackZFlipper

    Guys, it isn’t like pakistanis have anything of their own to be proud of. They can only label Chinese and Indian products as their own and be “proud” of them. :))Recommend

  • L.

    Many may find the picture with her feet pointing towards the flag offensive. Plz remove it ET. Recommend

  • Queen

    Congrats to Sania Bhabi from us Pakistani sasuraalis :D We wish her success in all her future endeavors.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Have always been a big fan of Sania Mirza………and why not, she’s amazing.Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Lol. Really amused to see Pakistan hitching on to the band wagon. Basking in other’s glory? But, Sania and Saina’s achievements are really something to be proud of. They, along with Mary Kom, and a host of others show us what Indian women are capable of in the sports arena. Kudos!Recommend

  • Disgruntled

    Thanks for the best wishes. She’s just captained the Indian Fed Cup team which beat Pakistan 3-0 :-)Recommend

  • mimi sur

    You can also achieve if you allow your girls to wear skirts to play. But if Mullah’s are against it, then can’t do anything.Recommend

  • Queen

    Thank you for the info :) She is our Bhabhi and we will continue to pray for her success :) Maybe she beat Pakistan to make up for India’s loss which was in 2012 when Shoaib Malik had hit six to make Pakistan win against India in Bangalore :)Recommend

  • Disgruntled

    Or maybe she was just continuing the rich tradition of India thrashing Pakistan, in sport, war, economy or just about anything else. :-)Recommend

  • Mushkaf

    Agreed that Sania Mirza is not a Pakistani. But you cannot deny the fact that she deep connection with Pakistan as her husband is a Pakistani and her Sasural is in Sialkot.Recommend

  • Disgruntled

    I personally believe that while one can choose to take offence at almost anything, one can also choose to ignore petty issues. This should never have been an issue. Thank you for respecting sensitivities, although since ET publishes articles designed to provoke, I doubt they would heed your advice. Recommend

  • Queen

    I think she woke up from the Indian daydream long time back when she married Shoaib Malik :)Recommend

  • Disgruntled

    Funny! I thought she was still playing for India, staying in India, donning Indian colours etc. Who exactly is daydreaming, and who is trying to bask in reflected glory? :-)Recommend

  • Jor El

    I think he meant, “A big congrats to Sania Mirza, from Pakistan!”
    translated, “Sania Mirza ko bahut badhaiyaan, Pakistan ki taraf se”Recommend

  • Jor El

    N i still wonder y we have Disgruntled Queen here :) …Recommend

  • نائلہ

    If someone was, say, disrespecting the Quran, then I know God will sort them out and hence I will not even comment. But when it comes to the love of country, it’s the patriots who need to put these ppl on their deserved place. And nws. Recommend

  • Queen

    I wonder why you think the Queen is disgruntled when the Queen has been supporting and congratulating her Bhabhi since the beginning :))Recommend

  • Queen

    I was referring to the Indian daydream of so-called ‘thrashing’ Pakistan in every field. Mm…Is it not the prerogative of sasuraalis to bask in the glory of their bahus and bhabhis? :) Just asking :)Recommend

  • Disgruntled

    Well, we Indians are certainly not daydreaming. The thrashings are only a matter of fact. And by all means bask in Sania’s glory. There’s not much more you can bask in.
    Just stating facts :-)Recommend

  • Humza

    She is not Pakistan’s Bahu. She is a south Indian. If some confused Pakstani marries an Indian, that’s his business alone.Recommend

  • Queen

    If congratulating someone is ‘basking’ in their glory then surely one should never congratulate another person ever. BTW, you must verify certain facts about us before stating them. Just saying :)Recommend

  • Headstrong

    To reiterate, feel free to congratulate/ bask in others glory etc. Again, to reiterate, facts are facts and after verification, will remain facts. Just reiterating :-)Recommend

  • Jor El

    Notice Disgruntled with a capital D … its being used as a verb here ;) …Recommend

  • shiraz

    Well an absolutely nude girl would get an automatic walkover in a,game.. Well you people may not consider modesty of a woman important but we do. They are queens of our homes and queens are not meant to be a showpiece or object of entertainment. Recommend

  • shirax

    Well the title PAKISTANI BAHU was given to her by your saffron group.Recommend

  • wb

    There’s nothing offensive in that. That’s a picture. A mere picture. A picture is a product of not just the setting but also the lens and the post-production.

    Recommend

  • wb

    On the issue of Pakistanis taking credit or even just feeling proud. Let’s face it, and not be politically correct. She has done a massive favor to Shoaib Malik, who’s not only an underachiever in cricket, but also in life.

    Today, he lives as a ghar-jamai, living off of his wife’s earnings. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Absolutely not. Let me make it clear, before the pseudo-feminists pounce on me.

    However, again I repeat, however, taking credit for her achievement…that’s just criminal.

    Pakistan or Shoaib have nothing to steal credit for Sania’s success. Sania’s a super successful woman who has achieved the un-dreamable through sheer, sheer, let me repeat, sheer, hard work.

    Recommend

  • Headstrong

    By all means congratulate/ bask in Sania’s glory. And facts remain facts, even after verifying. Just reiterating :-)Recommend

  • abhi

    clutching at straws here.Recommend

  • critic

    this shows how narrow minded the Indians are and on the other hand the blog shows the big heart of Pakistani’s even applauding others success and showing sportsman spirit ..Recommend

  • a_writer

    I can’t believe this. A young South Asian lady is shining in a sport and has reached the No.1 spot in the world and all I read below is the citizens of the two countries, lucky to be associated with young woman, scratching and biting like wild animals in the forest.Recommend

  • amartya

    LOL how Pakistani take credit for all this. what they have done for that/?Recommend

  • Jayman

    Sania would have had a bunch of kids by the time she was 22 and would have spent her life behind the hijab, had she lived in Pakistan. Muslims in the south of India are especially more progressive. They don’t waste their time on cooked up conspiracies.Recommend

  • Jor El

    Let it go man … TGIF …Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    I think Sania and Saina are the same person. Has anyone seen them in the same room together? Just saying.Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    OK, the Queen wins. Now can we stop this childish banter> Thank you in advance.Recommend

  • common

    We will go ahead and take the credit. Cause behind every successful Indian women is her pakistani husband :). Good job Shoaib Malik. We are all proud of ya!Recommend

  • common

    well shoaib brought her home. You shouldn’t have started the ghar vapsi program if you wanted to keep her. sore losers.Recommend

  • Headstrong

    ‘Home’ for her is still India. And looks like for Shoaib too. Glory Hunters…Recommend

  • Disgruntled

    Lol! Wannabes…..Recommend

  • نائلہ

    ………..good for you?Recommend

  • wb

    Don’t you think you should Start using simple and complete sentences?Recommend

  • siesmann

    The fact that both countries claim her as their own,shows that we are not different-we are the same people.There are some people on both sides that keep the hatred going..Recommend

  • wb

    And she’s proud of you and your brain.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    What’s the magic word? Recommend

  • wb

    Exactly.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    No, it’s “please”. Tsk tsk. Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Stop this joke man.
    Sania Mirza is Paki Bahu!
    That is a joke that only a Pakistani feudal mindset can think of.
    Sania Mirza does not and cannot live in Pakistan due to security reasons. She can’t play there as she will have a fatwa on her head for indecent exposure.
    The couple live in Dubai and shuttle between Dubai and Hyderabad (India).
    So, Pakis can own up Sania Mirza if they want to but does she really care?
    I do not think she does.
    Sometime ago a minister from the newly carved out state of Telangana (whose capital is Hyderabad) said that Sania Mirza cannot be the new state’s brand ambassador because she is a Pakistani “bahu” and not an Indian.
    Sania Mirza protested vociferously, shed copious tears in front of the media and said she is Indian first.
    So, check out with Sania Mirza next time before you shoot off your mouth what she is and what she is not.Recommend

  • wb

    Follow my advice.Recommend

  • milo

    True that!Recommend

  • milo

    Hahaha…surely you need to read more about Islam and Pakistan.
    Just for the info samina baig , shermeen obaid ,arfa kareem ,Malala are the women of the sort of Pakistan u talk about.
    And we own them as we own mirza.Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    You just revealed more about yourself in this short comment than a woman wearing short skirts or nothing at all. It is the attitude and intention, dear chap.Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    Ya gotta admit this happened after she married the cricketer. Love concentrates one’s mind.Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    Why this unnecessary and out-of-place acrimony? Everyone should celebrate at this young woman’s achievement! Congratulations, Sania, from the Sportsmen/women of the World!Recommend

  • نائلہ

    Hmm, let me ponder on that one.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Similarly any guy with a skullcap and a shaggy beard is a symbol of piety, spirituality.. He’s the king at home and in the mosque.Recommend

  • wb

    To ponder means to think. To think one has to have cerebrum. And to have cerebrum…means to never have made the first comment.Recommend

  • wb

    This also happened after her birth. So, should the credit go to her parents? This also happened after the death of Darwin. So, should the credit go to Darwin’s theory of evolution? This also happened after Adam met Eve? Should the credit go to Jehewah? This also happened after Walmiki wrote Ramayana, should the credit go to Lakshama?Recommend

  • Jayman

    For a population that is nearly 2 billion strong, there are a handful of rebellious women who made it despite everything. Go figure! Maybe *you* might want to research more on Islam and why Muslims are finding it hard to adjust to the modern world.
    What did Arfa Kareem and Samina Baig achieve? An Indian woman without a leg climbed Everest before Samina did. I won’t comment on Arfa’s achievement.Recommend

  • Arsha

    Problem is given the opportunity most women would want to be citizens of the world instead of queens confined to anyone’s homeRecommend

  • pakka indian

    Pakistan likes to piggy back ride on India’s tennis star and other prominent people, because it has nothing to offer of its own except terrorists and their ilk like Lakhvi, Hafiz Saeed, etc. Pakistan calls her “bahu” because she is married to a, generally, unsuccessful cricketer who has become a spent force, but by the same token India will call this cricketer – or, for that matter, other personalities such as actors and what have you as their “damads” or “bahus”. Indians know the worth of their own talents and also know the worth of Pakistan’s talents.Recommend

  • L.

    HAAHAHA how many words did you have to google for this one? Recommend

  • Hamidah Fawad

    Reading the comments from both sides really makes me sad, especially the hatred eminating from the Indians. All this article is doing is showing a spirit of sportsmanship by congrautlating Sania Mirza for her achievements. It also highlights the issue of how important it is for girls and women from both countries to be provided the right encouragement and platforms to deliver the best in todays competitive global scenario and make a name for themselves and their respective countries. Pakistan is not owning her success. We are just wishing her the best.
    There was no need for the type of comments that have been posted here. And whether India likes it or not – she is India’s daughter but Pakistan’s bahu. But beyond all this she is a young female who against all odds has managed to achieve something great.
    A lot of people here are talking about what a washout Shoaib Malik is and how he is living off her. Nobody forced her to marry Shoaib. It was her choice. Now if he is so terrible then why did she marry him. Maybe it’s a fault in Sania’s judgment or probably it is a lack of male suitors in India that led Sania to marry Shoaib. Whatever her reasons, it was her Choice
    I also want to address something else here. Both India and Pakistan have huge populations but in comparison to our populations, the number of successful sportswomen on both sides is much lower than it should be. Let us hope that we are able to reverse this trend in the near future. Please stop this unnecessary, time wasting bickering. Thank you my Indian and Pakistani friendsRecommend

  • Swaadhin

    A women’s attire is what is seen first before being decided whether she is successful or not, if the attired does not meet the expectations of a persons perception of what is allowed to be worn by women of his faith, he will look at the parts of the women’s body which can be seen rather than what cannot be, if she is not a member of the community, she is simply cheap belonging to a community which has no morals.Recommend

  • JayMankind

    I need to read about Islam? For a population of nearly 2 billion, how many athletes does the Islamic world have on the global stage? Many of the Islamic nations are rich in resources and are very affluent too. That is not the case with India. Among the examples you gave, only Obaid is worth considering.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    “Maybe it’s a fault in Sania’s judgment or probably it is a lack of male suitors in India that led Sania to marry Shoaib. Whatever her reasons, it was her Choice”

    Did your intellect go for a short nap while telling a billion strong country that they lack male suitors, why do you want to mock yourself and your country by making such a statement, now who is bickering?Recommend

  • Hamidah Fawad

    I was being sarcastic. You really need to get a sense of humor. Who Sania marries is her choice and there is no law against it. Recommend

  • Prashant

    Would not it be better to avoid sarcasm when you seem to be taking a moral high ground while preaching others how not to be?Recommend