Sania Mirza: How will the ace against all odds deal with this one?

The trolls stoop to new lows with the news of her divorce, some suggesting she was served right and she—and her child—deserve worse

Sania Mirza with son Izhaan (photo courtesy @Sania Mirza/X)
Sania Mirza with son Izhaan (photo courtesy @Sania Mirza/X)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

For Sania Mirza, the biggest breaker of barriers in Indian women's sports, nothing has really been handed over on a platter over the last two decades. No wonder her 2016 autobiography was aptly titled Ace against Odds!  

Be it her journey in a sport whose top aechelons have been almost an unchartered territory for South Asian women, be it remaining unfazed in the face of Islamic clerics’ ire for wearing short clothing (read: tennis gear) in the early days, be it refocusing her career into the doubles game after a tryst with injuries — the Hyderabadi tennis player didn’t do too badly on her overall scorecard when she called 'time!' on her career last year.  

Neither could it have been easy to withstand the public outrage when she admitted to her relationship with Shoaib Malik, then a leading Pakistan cricketer, as they tied the knot in 2012 for the most controversial wedding the sporting fraternity had seen on the Subcontinent.   

Yet, when Sania the tennis mum signed off from the courts with her son Izhaan in tow, the tennis world rose as one for the send-off.

The tweet from All India Tennis Association (AITA) was spot-on: 'Sania Mirza – An island of hope in a sea of mediocrity… A story of hard work, grit, determination & dedication finally comes to an end. From an emerging tennis star to one of India’s national sports icons, thank you for all the memories and love. #The_Queen_Retires’  

Well, the court was an arena where things were within her circle of influence; but outside it, all she deserved was some personal space as rumours swirled for almost past two years that her marriage to Malik had ended.

No sooner had Malik announced his marriage to Pakistan TV star Sana Javed on Sunday,20 January, than the trolls had bared their fangs — stooping to a new low to suggest that Sania ‘deserved’ it for falling in love with a celebrity across the border. 

Here’s s sampler from @Satya_Prakash08 on his X handle:

'I blame Sania Mirza for everything. What was need to marry a Pakistani guy when world knows they are biggest cheater. Shoaib Malik married again with a girl . Now what will you do?'

This is only a moderate one, with the more vitriolic ones suggesting that son Izaan should be deprived of an Indian citizenship.  

There is another bizarre suggestion floating around: rooting for a marital alliance between the tennis star and India’s star pace bowler Mohammed Shami, the latter just coming out of a rocky marriage of the last five years.

The X handle @owl_corner shows a doctored photo of the pair in wedding gear with the caption ‘Make it happen lala’ (Lala being Shami’s nickname in the Indian dressing room).   

The poise with which Sania and father Imran Mirza have handled the crisis so far has been admirable, meanwhile. they have confirmed the divorce, wished the estranged Malik best wishes in his new life as she carried out with her TV pundit’s duties for the ongoing Australian Open with aplomb.  

In an Instagram story last week, she had dropped a few broad hints though: 

'Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard. Choose your hard.

'Obesity is hard. Being fit is hard. Choose your hard.

'Being in debt is hard. Being financially disciplined is hard. Choose your hard.

'Communication is hard. Not communicating is hard. Choose your hard.

'Life will never be easy. It will always be hard.

But we can choose our hard. Pick wisely.'

This is no time, though, to take sides. Relationships do end, and it’s desirable that the affected parties should handle it with dignity.

Social media has no business getting into this at all, period!   

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