There is a well-defined point in the career of women tennis players when their thoughts turn fondly to marriage. Usually, it’s slightly ahead of retirement from the professional league. At 23, Sania Mirza still has some distance to go before she hangs up her sneakers, so here’s hoping that the institution of matrimony does not shorten it for one of India’s rare fixtures in the tennis firmament. All our vicarious appetites revolt at the thought of a Hyderabadi wedding without the biryani, but Mrs Mirza would be well advised to watch what she tucks into from the nuptial night itself. It won’t be all that difficult for the tennis pro — she has years of dietary discipline to fall back upon — it’s Mr Mirza’s culinary habits, and the changes they might have to undergo, that is causing brows to furrow across the nation.
Some sensitive souls amongst us will cringe at the chauvinism dripping from the words printed above. They will, rightly, point to the media’s double standards in treating news of sportsmen and sportswomen turning to the altar. There is no sub-text of a man’s sporting career coming to an untimely end when they report on his taking a wife. (In fact, sportsmen are expected to take more than a healthy interest in the opposite sex.)
Why should it be different for women? True. Examples abound of women tennis aces ruling the court well after they tied the knot. We pray that we get to see Mrs Mirza lob and volley for a long time. The thrust and parry of domestic existence just might not take a toll on her tennis.