NEW DELHI :
A TRAILBLAZER in Indian tennis, Sania Mirza on Thursday revealed that as a child, she was once asked to stop playing as “no one would marry” her if her complexion turned “dark” due to the rigours of an outdoor sport. Speaking at the World Economic Forum here, Sania, who has three doubles and an equal number of mixed doubles Grand Slams to her credit, reflected on the challenges she faced during a panel discussion on women and leadership. Sania remains India’s most successful woman tennis player, rising to a career-high world No. 27 in mid-2007 in the WTA singles chart.
“To start with, parents, neighbours, aunts and the uncles (need to) stop telling you how dark you will become and no one will marry you if you play a sport. I was just eight (when this came up) and everybody thought nobody is going to marry me because I would get dark. I thought to myself I am just a kid, I’ll be fine,” said the 32-year-old. “It is so deeply embedded, this culture about how a girl needs to be pretty and by that also one means fair, I don’t know why.
This culture has to change,” added the Hyderabadi, who also has 41 WTA doubles titles to her credit and was the world No.1 in women’s doubles in 2015. Married to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, Sania is currently working towards a comeback to the professional circuit next year after taking a break to become a mother. Reflecting on her journey, Sania said she had just sprint legend PT Usha to look up to in her growing up years but the times have evolved for the better and several women athletes are becoming role models.