Aug 15, 2015

Why 'Khel Ratna' for Sania Mirza is not like 'yet another award given'?

Two things have always ensured to surround her, sometimes one at a time and at times both together. One out of them is 'controversies' and the other is 'injuries'. Both of them are the worst nightmares of any player, for that matter any person. Handling controversies made her further stubborn. Injuries made her tough. The way she converted every difficulty into an opportunity and advantage, the way she fought back to the top spot in the women's doubles tennis rankings, the way she recently won the prestigious titles of her career make me say it confidently that the "Rajiv Khel Ratna" award bestowed upon Sania Mirza is not like 'yet another award given". I do not mean that the other awardees did not do all that against various odds. The nature of the odds this girl has come through is unique, as much as I have understood it.

Even though it's been twelve years since Sania Mirza won her first international title, at the Wimbledon in girls doubles, there has been no other single female player in India who could repeat her feat. Various social restrictions are usually put on girls especially when they are into sports. The restrictions in Muslim community are tough for any parents's to ignore or for any girl to dream her life her way. What Sania Mirza's parents would have to go through, would have to listen to, can be imagined and understood! When Mirza's career was in peak stage, she was criticized for the way she dressed up herself while playing. The basic thing for any tennis player to give her best in the court is the way she can move herself, the way she can use her limbs while trying to reach the ball. For that, whatever is comfortable she can wear. She could have simply ignored the comments made. But she did not. She changed her dressing as necessary and continued to concentrate on her game. 

Sania has always been outspoken, be it about herself or about something happening in the society. Many of the statements of her made many a groups of people unhappy. Even though she knew that she did say nothing wrong, she maintained her dignity in handling the critics again. Facing a legal case under the "Prevention of insults to national honor act" given tremendous pressure as it actually questions the character of the player who represents the country. She had to face such a case too! 

Injuries are a players' first opponents. Unlike the opponents with whom they must fight, players must fight first to avoid the injuries coming their way. The career threatening wrist injury Sania Mirza has faced and fought with is a dangerous one. Many a people did not expect her comeback, I confess that I was one among them. But I was later happy that she shattered the injuries aside and did the comeback all again.

Her decision to participate in the commonwealth games held in India was appreciated as she had said that she would never participate in any tournament in India. The way she expressed her disappointment over the London Olympic selection row, i.e. to spare her for Leander Paes, was one of her type but finally, for the nation she respected the decision taken by the officials. Teaming up with Martina Hingis is probably one of the best decisions she has taken. That made her life. And that has brought her all the way here, whatever the way she is today. 

Marriage is something very personal. Life partner is very personal too and the decision about the life partner must be one's own. Even though she knew that since she was a public figure, marrying a Pakistani national would make many Indians angry, she still stick to her decision of tying knot with Shoiab Malik. When people speak about her in-law country, her nationality etc, she always says that she will continue to represent India, the country and the people who have made her the way she is today. Handling this matter is not as easy as it appears. A lot of emotions are into this, a wide range of people and relations are involved. She must be brilliant and tough to successfully come out of all this and still manage to win the big titles on the world's big stages. On one occasion, a journalist asked her a question if she was missing her family life and having kids. What she said was interesting. "When you see your life as noble, certain things won't bother you". That's thought provoking too!

Congratulations to Sania Mirza for winning the Khel Ratna award for 2015. Hope the above justifies the title of this post! May many more titles do come her way. May she rewrites the history created by herself. Also, I wish to see many women tennis players coming out and performing on world stage. That fulfills the journey which Mirza has started.

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