NEW DELHI: Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza, who broke down during an interview to NDTV, said it is unfair that she has to keep asserting her 'Indian-ness.'
The sports icon spoke against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) objections over her appointment as brand ambassador of Indian state Telangana. The BJP stated that owing to her marriage to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, Mirza was the “daughter-in-law of Pakistan” and a non-local.
“After playing for the country for many years, after saying time and again that I have an Indian passport, after winning medals for India after I got married, don't know why I have to keep justifying that I am Indian,” said Mirza.
The 27-year-old said that she was not sure whether the repeated criticism “has something to do with my gender”.
Clarifying that people’s opinions don’t affect her, Mirza said she will not let anyone question her roots.
The tennis player claimed that she was hurt by the objections as she has given everything she has to India and Telangana. “I opened a tennis academy only so that we have more tennis players come out of the state of Telangana.”
“I don't know if it happens in any other country that you have to keep proving that you are from that country," she said, adding that she does not know if it is the case because she is married to someone from another country or because she is a woman.
Talking about her marriage to a Pakistani, Mirza said that as a sportsperson, she has never judged people according to their religion, caste or country.
“It didn't even cross my mind where my husband was from when we met. So I don't understand why this has to cross anyone else's mind,” said Mirza.
Mirza said she was glad that people supported her and spoke out against the controversy.
“I think at the end, logic prevailed. The media really stood behind me. I felt like everyone was fighting for (what is) right,” she said.
Responding to criticism that she has not taken a position on Telangana, Mirza said, that she is proud and humbled that the chief minister chose her as brand ambassador.
“I am way too stubborn (to give up being brand ambassador). I will do whatever it takes. I hope to make India and Telangana more well-known in the world of sport,” said a shaken Mirza.
“I will be Indian for as long as I live,” she said.