5 times Sania Mirza made it easier for us to be women

5 times Sania Mirza made it easier for us to be women

She shuts up her haters and does what she wants. And who wins? All women!
Updated 06 Sep, 2018

Yesterday, Indian tennis champ Sania Mirza was asked a question most women are familiar with: just when does she plan to "settle down" and have babies?

Mirza, who was sitting down with TV presenter Rajdeep Sardesai to talk about her just launched autobiography Ace Against Odds, had an answer ready for him.

“You don’t think I am settled?,” she first asked.

Then, she launched into a whip-smart speech that's one for the books.

"You sound disappointed that I’m not choosing motherhood over being number one in the world at this point of time. But I’ll answer your question anyway, that’s the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face — the first is marriage and then it’s motherhood. Unfortunately, that’s when we’re settled, and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or number ones in the world we become, we don’t become settled. But eventually it will happen, not right now. And when it does happen I’ll be the first one to tell everybody when I plan to do that," she said.

It was enough said. The anchor immediately apologised, but she took another opportunity during the interview to make her position on the subject clear.

When asked how she’d like to be remembered, Mirza said, “(I hope my achievements set a precedent that) no girl is asked at the age of 29 as to when she is going to have a child when she’s number one in the world,” before adding, “that’s no settling in.”

This isn't the first time that Sania's shut down people who have insinuated what she should do with her life.

Here's a rundown of all the times she's faced - and trounced - bullies:

1) The time she was bashed for marrying Shoaib Malik

Sports stars are invariably thought of as sons and daughters of the nation, and when Sania ditched her long-time beau to marry cricketer Shoaib Malik— gasp, a Pakistani! — many in India thought it was the ultimate betrayal. But did she care? Nope. Ignoring the outrage of a khandaan of over a billion, Sania went on to marry Malik.

Some of her countrymen kept a grudge. When she was named brand ambassador for the Telangana state in India, she was looked down upon as not Indian enough, and was referred to as "Pakistan's daughter-in-law."

The remarks hit Mirza when it hurt, but she fought back with a televised statement:

"I've lived in Hyderabad all my life, my forefathers have lived in Hyderabad all their lives. They've done way too much for their state and this country, I've done way too much for this state and the country to even dignify that statement [with a response]. I'm honoured and humbled that the honourable CM has thought me to be worthy of being brand ambassador of this state."

2) The time there were fatwas against her tennis gear

The year was 2005, and Mirza was all of 18.

Some Muslim clerics issued a fatwa against her wearing T-shirts and skirts, the standard gear for female tennis players. They insisted she wear long tunics, or face the consequences.

What did Mirza do? She began wearing T-shirts with slogans like "I'm cute," "You can either agree with me - or be wrong," and "Well behaved girls rarely make history."

She's went on to make several badass statements about this obsession over her clothes:

"How I dress is very personal thing," she once said. "As long as I am winning, people shouldn't care whether my skirt is six inches long or six feet long. It is scary that every time I wear a T-shirt, it becomes a talking point for the next three days."

On another occasion, she declared that she merely ignores remarks about her clothes.

"As I came to the lime light, the media asked me many questions. A lot many moral policing... 'Wear this, wear that, why a T-shirt?' Everybody has the right to form their opinions, and I have the right to ignore them."

Thanks, Sania, for not caving into the pressure.

3) The early days when people laughed at her Wimbledon dreams

About the earliest days of her career, Sania shared, "When I used to say I wanted to play at Wimbledon, they used to laugh in my face and say, 'What are you talking about, you're from Hyderabad, and you're supposed to... cook.' That's one of the notions that people have in this side of the world - it is our 'culture', within quotes, you know, to say what a woman can or cannot do."

And just like that, Mirza's told all the young women fighting to fulfill their dreams that theirs is possible too.

4) The time she didn't shy away from calling out her country for its failure to protect women's rights

When Sania Mirza was named UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia, she became the first South Asian woman to be appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador in the organization's history. But instead of a celebration of that achievement, harsh criticism followed for her interview, of which an outtake 'No respect for women in India' became a sensationalist headline.

In a series of tweets, she responded to the backlash as below:

"Just to make a couple of things very clear: I did NOT say that there is no respect for women in India. I am the ambassador for the region and I would never be where I am today if the country hadn't given me all this love," she began.

"But I am fortunate, very fortunate. There are millions of women who are less fortunate in this part of the world and have been victims of abuse, physical or sexual, and have not been allowed to follow their dreams because they were a girl! So whether you guys like to accept it or not, this is the truth.

"And yes, I do believe that if I was a man I would not have faced certain unnecessary controversies that I did! And some language that is being used here on Twitter doesn't seem too respectful to me! So some of you need to clean your tongue first before wanting to claim that you respect women and people in general..."

"...I have made myself very clear, and will stand for what I believe in and address the issue of gender inequality."

5) Sania isn't afraid of losing her position to speak up for women's rights.

"Gender equality is something we all advocate," she said when she was named the UN Ambassador. "Some speak about it, some don't. I have chosen to speak about it. I hope one day everyone will say that we are equal and women are not treated as objects. I will try and do everything I can to bring about a change."

She has spoken against the Indian tennis federation for "putting (her) up as a bait" to pacify senior tennis player Paen during the Olympics, condemned the government for mishandling rape cases, and spoken out against sex-selective abortions in India.


expatriate Jul 15, 2016 04:58pm
Bravo Sania: A girl of the East showing other girls to think high and stand your ground. You have lots to offer to the world.
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Indian pitbull Jul 15, 2016 05:00pm
attagirl! way to go!! always proud of u..
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hyderabadi4life Jul 15, 2016 05:03pm
As a Hyderabadi, I feel so so so much proud of her. And it's a great thing that both India and Pakistan get to bask in her limelight. Rather than celebrating that, we always look for more reasons to bash her. sheeesh.
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Ash Jul 15, 2016 05:04pm
She is bravo and we are proud of her.
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Sri1 Jul 15, 2016 05:08pm
Way to go dear girl. You win the hearts of all Indians, and I would guess Pakistanis too.
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rk singh Jul 15, 2016 05:17pm
I would like her to win more grand slam titles. After her there is nobody.
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Iftikhar Husain Jul 15, 2016 05:26pm
Brave girl to fight the world.
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hypocrisy Jul 15, 2016 05:28pm
but i heard she is know as 'nikkar wali bhabhi' in pakistan
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noni69 Jul 15, 2016 05:35pm
way to go girl!!!!!!
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Rashid Sultan Jul 15, 2016 05:40pm
Well spoken heroine and a role model.
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tennis watcher Jul 15, 2016 05:45pm
Dreams come true 4 those who strive and have a vision. Good Luck and GOD speed in her endeavors on the court and at home.
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analyses Jul 15, 2016 05:49pm
Nice article. She is really a symbol for women's empowerment defying the hypocrites among us and really not given enough credit for a lot of achievements. I'm sure most of the people will comment on her dresses just because she is a Muslim Indian, but we Pakistanis do not raise an eyebrow on the same dresses worn by our own female football, tennis and squash players in every event. We have double standards. Dressing is one's own choice and people shouldn't dictate others in any way.
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Indian Jul 15, 2016 06:01pm
I am proud of you Indian girl :) People needs to understand that becoming a mother is a private matter and it should be decided by husband and wife whenever they are ready to take the responsibility.
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Sania Jul 15, 2016 06:04pm
Sania is something India can produce. Pakistan cannot.
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Harmony-1© Jul 15, 2016 06:14pm
@Sania - Good for India then but this was more about misogyny of men, by the way!
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ali Jul 15, 2016 06:19pm
Thank you Sania to stand up to stereotyping. Love you for who you are. God bless you !!
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Pakistan Zindabad Jul 15, 2016 06:21pm
@Sania Pakistan had produced Shoaib. Which big big India can't produce.
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The Observer Jul 15, 2016 06:22pm
@Sania what exactly made you think this?
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Well meaning Jul 15, 2016 06:31pm
proved that muslim women are equal to or better than muslim men . the reason most of india as supset about her marriage was they did not think Shoaib was match enough for her, anyway time will tell that story
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insaafian Jul 15, 2016 06:49pm
@Sania Sure - She is someone only Pakistan can perfect.
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East indian Jul 15, 2016 07:09pm
Proud of sania being an indian woman.
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Pluralist Jul 15, 2016 07:09pm
@Sania But India cannot produce a person worth her match, the reason Sania ended up marrying a Pakistani. India being a country of 1.3 billion people should have more people worth the salt.
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khanna Jul 15, 2016 07:14pm
proud Indian..sania..way to go!!
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Shoaib Jul 15, 2016 07:28pm
@Sania Don't worry we will produce another Shoaib to bring the best out of India to Pakistan, that's what we called real home after marriage? Isn't it?
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Exlim Jul 15, 2016 08:16pm
Sania makes all, specially us Hyderabadis, proud!
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Agha Ata Jul 15, 2016 08:52pm
I will take only one point. Whenever you are happy, look around a fatwa is on its way.
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Zeenat Anwar Jul 15, 2016 09:19pm
Sania I am originally from Pakistan and now an American citizen. I know every one loves you in Pakistan. Infact you are a role model for the young girls in that country. I would love to meet you when ever you visit US.
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Thoroughthinker Jul 15, 2016 09:56pm
She has slammed the bad-mouths in the grandest way. Best of luck to her in all her humble endeavors!
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anon Jul 15, 2016 10:27pm
@analyses She is not an Indian anymore! She married a Pakistani and as such she is a Pakistani. Where she lives or what she says is immaterial. Its just that India did not disown her(yet). But she is a true 'muslim'.
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anon Jul 15, 2016 10:29pm
@East indian She is Pakistani now! Her husband is a Pakistani!
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Samad Chaudhry London Jul 15, 2016 11:11pm
A great woman. I saw her on the Kapil Sharma shows and no one can humiliate her. Applaud her success and not criticise her.
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a Jul 16, 2016 12:08am
I was very disappointed that she gave up singles. Doubles is not even half what the singles success is !
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Thoughtful Jul 16, 2016 01:30am
Not a great tennis player but certainly a very inspiring role model for women especially, Muslim girls and women.
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Seth M Sarwar Jul 16, 2016 02:19am
Why are we pointing out her dresses, her stand against being pregnant at 29 etc. etc. Muslim theory, girls are to produce is correct but they are not cows, they have a heart and vision. 20th century calls for lot of things, let women enjoy and settle in life as it happens.
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DKM Jul 16, 2016 02:51am
There are 2 women of substance in this part of the world is Sania and 2nd is Malala..... Proud of both...!!
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brr Jul 16, 2016 03:48am
She has more guts and smarts than most people. She is hated by muslims who are conservative.
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komal s Jul 16, 2016 06:22am
So glad she gave it back to Raj deep Sardesai. She is very smart.
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Kabroo Jul 16, 2016 07:21am
What a beautiful thing that both Pakistan and India can rejoice in the phenomenon that is Sania Mirza!
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Pakistani Jul 16, 2016 09:03am
@Sania oh God you Indians can't see anything out of india please increase your general knowledge come out of your cocoon you will see a lot many successful women in pakistan.
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Truly Indian Jul 16, 2016 09:17am
Indians love and respect Sania. She is a role model of both my daughters who play tennis and cricket.
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Third Pary Jul 16, 2016 10:12am
She also went to 7 RCR and met Modi ...Modi blessed her to win more trophy...
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srinath Jul 16, 2016 10:28am
@insaafian i had a bad day yesterday... your comment made my day...!!!! =D
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sridhar Jul 16, 2016 10:41am
She can say all this because she is an Indian Muslim. And she is not number 1 in tennis. She is ranked number 1 in double's ranking. There is a lot of difference between the 2. I think barring Indians and Pakistanis, few know her name.
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ghinva raza Jul 16, 2016 11:18am
im from Pakistan,but would comment just as a women!! the presenter just got served..same criticism is faced by us across the border!! women,,cooks..!!! as our beloved Afridi once said.!! you go Girl!! you are adorable,,super successful..& super sexy!! May Allah bless you more!!
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ghinva raza Jul 16, 2016 11:19am
Thanks @Mehreen Hassan!!
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KUNAL MAJUMDAR Jul 16, 2016 11:46am
I have always admired her grit, her determination. She's indeed a role model not only for young girls, but also for young boys, for what she's achieved despite the humongous odds. Nobody has the right to ask her idiotic questions. She has every right to lead her life the way SHE WANTS.
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SWAT Jul 16, 2016 11:55am
The tennis jewel of India. Keep winning more titles for India and make your country proud.
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A shah Jul 16, 2016 05:26pm
Make INDIA proud
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A shah Jul 16, 2016 05:26pm
This is the kind of success Muslims enjoy in India
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Eramangalam Jul 16, 2016 06:41pm
Yes Sania, well behaved girl has made history, who else, you have made great history. What exactly is "well behaved"? You are the one who is well behaved, let others learn from you. And you have not stopped, you have been consistent in your attitude, performance and expression. Bravo.
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Eramangalam Jul 16, 2016 06:46pm
@Zeenat Anwar It does not matter to which country she belongs to. People love her since she is lovable. She is an exemplary woman. It actually does not matter that she is a woman, ultimately she is a person and a human being.
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Eramangalam Jul 16, 2016 06:50pm
@Pluralist What a cheap thought, diametrically opposite to Sania's character. Does it matter from where she marries.
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Harmony-1© Jul 16, 2016 07:39pm
@BRR - It is your hatred against Muslims which is more evident actually. Sania is admired a lot in Pakistan too by what you call "muslims who are conservative". If you had some decency and less hatred, you would have spelt muslims with a capital 'M'.
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Alia (indian) Jul 16, 2016 08:00pm
She is an Indian. Plays under the Indian representing her country and is a resident of Indian, Hyderabad. In fact she has made it clear again and again in interviews which country she plays for and which flag she holds. BTW - how many times since her one foray into Pakistan after her wedding has she come there? Never. And she spends more time in Bombay and Hyderabad, India than she does even in Dubai. Don't believe me - check out her pics over the past few years with her Bollywood friends. And where is Shoiab in these pictures? Says a lot. She is Indian. Period!!!! Don't stake claim when her training and her play is for the country she belongs too. If she was in Pakistan, she would've been a victim of a repressive male and religious dominated society and would never have reached the heights that she has scaled. Thats the bitter truth.
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sultan pervez Jul 16, 2016 08:59pm
My own opinion is that it is your parents choice when you are at school, Your teachers choice when you are in the college and after that you are free to please yourself and choose between the universities ,your own field. It is all down to you and your family. What is clever is to remain loyal to your family and friends by being able to convince your parents specially that your decision is the best in the long term so that all ends well. What matters most is your parents,friends and your own happiness. One has to make a lot of sacrifices on the way since no one has ever achieved all of the desires. Some come in the life here after for those who have wisdom.
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tanvir Jul 17, 2016 02:06am
great woman -- May God bless her
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Kulbhushan Yadav Jul 17, 2016 08:48am
@anon LOL. You guys are hilariously ignorant. May be you should ask her which passport does she use to travel.
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Habib khan Jul 19, 2016 12:04am
I have been following Sania Mirza playing tennis since several years, she has talent and is a great tennis player. I have all respect for her being number one in ladies tennis doubles. I wish her more laurels to come. Also she has the choice to have the baby at the right time at heir choice etween both husband and wife nobody else should interfere in this affair this is their personal business. Keep playing as long as u can manage. Best of luck. hk
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