When we think of India and sport the first name that comes to mind is cricket and then field hockey. But tennis? Well, yes, tennis. In 2015 Sania Mirza made history by becoming the first female player from India to win a women’s doubles Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. She is also the highest ranked female tennis player ever from India. Her path to fame and success came with its trials and sacrifices.
Sania started playing tennis at the age of six. Her first coach was her father Imran Mirza, who gave up a career in journalism to guide his daughter. In 2014, objections were raised against Sania’s outfits on court and a fatwa* was issued against her. She vowed never to play in India. But, later she did.
There have been significant changes in India regarding the status of women. Women have more rights. In terms of dress, they are also more liberal, particularly in larger cities such as Mumbai and Dehli; but Sania’s story shows that individuals are still bound by traditional norms and Islamic law.
It would be wrong to suggest that cultural progress for women would be a move towards Western culture. It would equally be wrong to suggest that the restrictions placed on women is the right thing to do. Is there a perfect balance in between both cultures? Should there be? Either way, we’ll continue to celebrate amazing role models like Sania who continue to wow us on the tennis courts and also on the catwalk. Did we mention her impeccable taste in fashion?
*A fatwa is a ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority
(Photo credit theposttread & youtube)