We love Sania Mirza. There we said it. We love her, because she is the number one female tennis player and despite severe misogynist criticism never stopped rocking the tennis courts.
In 2005 Haseeb-ul-hasan Siddiqui, a leading cleric of the Sunni Ulema Board, issued a fatwa which demanded that Sania Mirza, a practicing Muslim, stop wearing short skirts to play tennis. “The dress she wears on the tennis courts, leaves nothing to the imagination. She will undoubtedly be a corrupting influence,” he said. Sania was requested to wear long tunics and a hijab, like female Iranian badminton players do. As she predictably did not listen to this, threats became more severe. At one point Siddiqullah Chowdhry, a cleric of the Muslim group Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Hind, shared “she will be stopped from playing if she doesn’t adhere to it”.
Now, ten years later, on 11 July 2015, together with her legendary partner, Switzerland’s Martina Hingis, she claimed India’s first Wimbledon title for women’s doubles. Sania is used to making history as she was also the first Indian woman to win a WTA title in 2005 and reach a grand slam final (at the Australian Open mixed doubles in 2009). Rightfully she is now ranked world number one in women’s doubles. Sania has proven to be unstoppable.
As if these are not enough reasons for us to love her, Sania is also United Nations Women’s goodwill ambassador for South Asia since 2014. She joined their campaign to end violence against women and raise awareness on gender equality.
In her acceptance speech she said: “I hope one day everyone will say that we are equal and women are not treated as objects. Women face discrimination. They are treated like animals and it is not right. The mentality needs to be changed. […] Gender equity in sports as well as using sports to advocate for gender equality in communities is essential. Equality depends on each and all of us. From the government that changes its laws, to the company that advances equal pay and equal opportunity, to the mother and father who teach their daughter and son that all human beings should be treated equally, to the athletes who demonstrate equality and excellence”.
We at CSR salute Sania’s determination to take a definite stand in the struggle and in the playfield. As they say: “the haters gonna hate!”, so keep smashing those balls!
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