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'No one's opinion matters to me'

Tennis star Sania Mirza has hit out at the obsession with her religion, saying more attention should be paid to her tennis than her Muslim faith.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2006 19:54 IST
AFP
AFP
PTI

Tennis star Sania Mirza has hit out at the obsession with her religion, saying more attention should be paid to her tennis than her Muslim faith.

The 19-year-old is regarded as a trailblazer for Indian and Muslim women but she said people should stop confusing her profession and beliefs.

"I think everyone mixes up religion and sport. I'm a sports person and religion is something very personal," she said.

"Yes, I'm a practising Muslim but I don't understand why only I'm asked about my religion. Everyone's got a religion out there, I wonder why no one else is asked about it.

"I feel it's a very personal thing. It's my personal choice and I don't feel the need to justify it to anyone."

Mirza grabbed the headlines in 2005 when she became the first Indian woman to win a WTA tour event and soared more than 100 rankings places to finish the year at 34.

But she attracted criticism from religious conservatives who said she was standing "half-naked on the tennis court while playing, which is against Islam".

Later she created a storm with comments interpreted as condoning pre-marital sex.

But the Hyderabad native, who will kick off her season at the Champions Challenge here, said she had learned not to pay attention to everyone's views.

"Obviously India's a big country. There's a billion people and a billion opinions but that's the way it goes," she said.

"My job is to go out there and give 100 percent every time and let my racquet do the talking. If I start wondering what a billion people are going to say every time I don't think I could really play.

"I've learned in the past year that everyone's going to have their own opinion but it's my choice whether to take it on board. I don't think everyone's opinion really matters to me as long as I go out there and do my best."

First Published: Jan 04, 2006 19:54 IST