REPORTING FROM WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND – If you still believe in the Olympic spirit, then you know it hasn’t been entirely hijacked by corporations and commercials and made-for-TV and shoe-company showdowns. You know it can have meaning bigger than gold, about cultures coming together, about celebrating the best of humanity.
Sania Mirza understands. And when three male tennis players from India were bickering, looking small and refusing to play with each other in the Olympics, Mirza was offered up as the solution, placed in what amounted to an arranged tennis marriage for the Olympics.
But the All India Tennis Association messed with the wrong woman.
Calling the arrangement “blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood,’’ Mirza courageously, gracefully and very publicly wrote a letter that served as a public statement and a reminder of the values of the Olympics.
“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,’’ she wrote. “While I feel honored and privileged to have been chosen to partner Leander (Paes), the manner and timing of the announcement wreaks of male chauvinism …’’
Mirza was the only one given real reason not to play. Yet she’s also the only one who didn’t threaten to pull out.
Here’s what happened:
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