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Sania 'insults' tricolour!

india Updated: Sep 20, 2006 10:17 IST
Highlight Story

An advertising campaign featuring India's rising tennis star Sania Mirza sparked off protests in her hometown Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday.

The Lotto sportswear campaign features Sania resting her foot on a guitar painted in the colours of the Indian flag.

Members of the 'Rahul Priyanka Youth Brigade', an affiliate to the state’s ruling Congress Party, shouted anti-Sania slogans and burnt her effigies, demanding an immediate public apology from her.

"We hereby ask her to apologise to the whole country. While endorsing a foreign brand, she is demeaning the Indian flag rather than holding it high. That she chose to feature in that advertisement is a shame," said Manoj Alexander, president of the Rahul Priyanka Youth Brigade.

Among the protestors were several Muslim women clad in traditional black veils.

Sania had earlier earned the ire of Muslim groups in Hyderabad who had objected to her skimpy tennis outfits, which they said violated Islamic norms.

Sania is currently participating in the ongoing 175,000 dollars Sunfeast Open in Kolkata, where she plays Indian qualifier Rushmi Chakravarthi in her first round match on Tuesday.

Sania surmounted religious barriers to surge from 206th in the women's world rankings in 2004 to a career high 31 in October last year.

She also became the first Indian woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament at the U.S. Open before succumbing to Russia's Maria Sharapova.

The high point of her career at this time is her doubles ranking as World No. 28.

In spite of an indifferent season this year that saw her singles ranking plunge to 70, Sania is still looked upon as an icon among rising female tennis-lovers in the country.

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