India loves sports. This is said considering the fact that everyone loves to play a certain sport. Until 2010, Cricket was the only sport which people liked, the government recognized and gave facilities to push kids into getting good athletes for the nation. Yes, our country is a cricket loving nation. For sure, we were an indestructible force in Hockey in the early thirties but due to ill facilities we could never up our game. Many would either choose cricket as a career or get into the corporate stream. Some dared to try other sports and excel. The reason people chose cricket was because of the exposure, money and competition. Also, other sports did not have much exposure or media attention.
All this changed in the past 5 years. Now apart from the Indian premier league we have;
IPTL (International Tennis Premier League) since 2014
There are many more leagues for Poker, Polo etc. The point I want to put through is due to all these leagues opening, our national players get exposure and get to share the field alongside players who are on top of the world rankings. The audience in India also have graced all these sports. Would you believe that over 20,000 people watch ISL live on the ground or that people now talk about Kabaddi more often than cricket. Leagues in India need to get more facilities so that home grown players get better in the game and can make our nation proud. Currently it’s a work in progress but within the next 5-7 years, there surely will be growth.
In the entire year of 2015, whenever I heard of a tennis update or read the sports section of a newspaper, I’d wonder which tournament the invincible pair of Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza is playing in.
I’d also wonder whether they would win the title with straight sets or without losing serve. Forgive me, I’m not being biased, but such was their superiority that within a year of being partners in this sport, they have gobbled up a whopping 11 titles.
Yes, it’s like they are collecting memorabilia from their various traveling tourneys.
They have now even coveted the joint no.1 ranking in the women’s doubles ranking now. That’s one coveted title that many doubles partners crave for.
As we speak they have entered the first grand slam of the year i.e. “The Australian Open” with the tag of the Hot favorite and a 30 match unbeaten streak which can intimidate any other opposition.
Yes, a 30 match unbeaten streak which was last witnessed in the early nineties. They’re surely going to break that too. (Fingers crossed). Also, out of the 4 slams last year, they won the last 2 i.e. “The Wimbledon” & “The US Open”.
That means they’re on verge of adding a third consecutive grand slam to their kitty. Martina on the other hand to has won so much in her decorated career.
She has been world no.1 in both the singles and in the doubles format. She also has around 20 grand slam titles (DAMN!!)
This would be the 6th time that she would be world no.1 in doubles which takes her kitty to 36 weeks atop the no.1 spot in doubles and also had been on top for the singles no.1 for over 200 weeks.
Sania too has been on the top spot for doubles from the past 41 weeks. That’s one heck of an achievement.
So much of statistics, so many records to tumble, so much of fame is what they deserve. This is where I lay my focus on for today’s post which will deal with how Sania has been treated by the Indian newspapers and the sports + media industry.
It was a huge deal a long time back when an Indian Woman could play tennis. When Sania broke that barrier, played singles, the nation rejoiced but it also had its doubts.
Some said she would never ever make it into the TOP 100. But she went one step ahead and reached the Top 30 in singles. Yes, they rejoiced for her again but only temporarily as once her form dwindled, so did their thoughts.
She then went on towards the doubles tournaments and after a couple of years, her playing style has reached a mature level. The way she plays now is too structured and disciplined which is important in this sport.
She achieved the no.1 ranking last April and since then has been on top to be joined by her doubles partner Hingis.
Even though she won so much, achieved the no.1 ranking, won a couple of grand slams, yet there were no such celebrations here. At most, she made it to a small article in the middle of the sports section of the newspaper.
The recognition, the accolades which our nation must now shower over her feels incomplete to me. That’s how I see it. What more does she has to do in order to reach that front page of the newspaper, the main headlines of the news channels? What else?
Sure she got the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award for the year 2015. Obviously there was no other competitor who could match her achievements for that year.
But as far as I’ve seen, it’s very less what we have done for a player who has given it to her all for the sport, scaled the top peak, and has stayed on that place slaying any other opponent who wants to covet that spot.
Anyways, I’m proud of her and the partnership with Martina. I’ll be looking forward to them winning the Australian Open (hopefully) and wish them more luck and titles in the future