Sania hits out at AITA for using her as 'bait'

New Delhi: Sania Mirza, who got a wild card entry for the Olympics, indicated she has no problem in partnering Leander Paes in the mixed doubles event in London but hit out at the AITA for using her as a "bait" in the selection row.

Moments after she was handed a wild card along with veteran Rushmi Chakravarthy in the women`s doubles event for the London Games, Sania said although she preferred Mahesh Bhupathi, she is ready to partner Paes in the larger interest of the country.

"As an Indian woman belonging to the 21st century, what I find disillusioning is the humiliating manner in which I was put up as a bait to try and pacify one of the disgruntled stalwarts of Indian tennis," Sania said in a statement in an apparent reference to Paes.

The 25-year-old also hit out at the way she was "offered in compensation to partner one of the feuding champions purely in order to lure him into accepting to play with a men`s player he does not wish to play with!"

"This kind of blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood needs to be condemned even if it comes from the highest controlling body of tennis in our country," she added.

Paes has been paired with 206-ranked Vishu Vardhan in the men`s doubles for the Olympics.

In her statement, Sania was also critical of Leander's father, Dr Vece Paes, who had asked her to give a written commitment to pair up with his son.

"To Dr. Vece Paes, who has on camera asked me to give in writing about my intention of partnering his son for the mixed doubles event at the Olympics, I would like to point out that my commitment is to my country," she said.

"For the sake of India I am committed to play with Leander Paes or Mahesh Bhupathi or Rohan Bopanna or Somdev Devvarman or Vishnu Vardhan or any other person that my country feels I am good enough to partner. There should never ever be a question on this although if asked, I am entitled to have my preferences. I will do everything I possibly can to win a medal for India," she added.

The Hyderabadi said it was demeaning for her and Vishnu that Paes had asked for a written assurance to consider paring up with the lower-ranked player in men's doubles event.

"To Leander Paes I would like to point out that Vishnu Vardhan is an extremely talented player, who I had the privilege of partnering. We went on to win a silver medal for India at the 2010 Asian Games, when all the three male stalwarts of Indian tennis had opted to stay away from Guangzhou," Sania said.

"I am convinced that he can go one better when pitted with someone as good as Leander as partner. For Leander to consider partnering with Vishnu only if he has a written assurance from me to play mixed (as Vece Uncle has suggested in his television interviews) is, I think demeaning for me, Vishnu and Leander Paes," she added.

Sania also did not spare Bhupathi and said the veteran had "sacrificed" his commitment to play with her at the Olympics after their French Open title early this month.

"Mahesh Bhupathi has firmly stood by his commitment to play together with his men's doubles partner, Rohan Bopanna as he genuinely believed it was good for India.

However, in the process, he sacrificed the commitment he made to me to try and win an Olympic medal together for India," she added.

Sania said the whole selection row in the last few days has left her "shaken and disturbed".

"I have to admit that helplessly watching the sport that I love and passionately play, go through extremely trying times in my country in the last few days and the unusual pressures that I was personally subjected to have left me shaken and disturbed," she said.

The tennis ace said she was shocked at the manner facts were misrepresented in an attempt to justify the breaking up of her and Bhupathi's combination, just days after they won their second Grand Slam title.

"What is even more shocking is the manner in which facts have been misrepresented to the public at large to paint a totally wrong picture in an attempt to justify the breaking up of a team that won a second Grand Slam title only days earlier," Sania said.

"Leander and I are not the only combination likely to get a direct entry into the mixed doubles draw at the Olympics, as has been wrongly portrayed. If that was true, a highly intelligent man like Dr. Paes would not have felt insecure enough to ask for my written declaration to partner Leander.

"AITA, itself would not have needed to write a letter to Mr. Randhir Singh giving details of the final pairings and clarifying that these could not be changed without the written permission of the IOA!," she added.

Sania, however, said she would give her best in her second Olympic appearance in London.

"I feel absolutely thrilled and emotionally overwhelmed to have qualified to represent India at the Olympics in London. I am extremely grateful to the ITF for the faith they have reposed in me by giving me a wild card entry that gives me a cherished opportunity to represent my country at the Olympics for the second time in my life.

While, of course, nobody in the world can guarantee winning a medal in London, I can promise that I shall leave no stone unturned to bring glory to my beloved country".

"I would like to reiterate that I consider it the ultimate honour to represent India to the best of my abilities at the Olympics and I will do everything I possibly can with whosoever I am partnered with," she said.


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