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Sport plays unifier again
- Sania to partner Israeli after parting under ‘pressure’

June 28: Sania Mirza lost today but might still keep making the headlines during Wimbledon.

The Indian tennis star, who went out of the singles with a 2-6, 2-6 loss to Russian Nadia Petrova, will team up with a favoured partner for the women’s doubles.

Sania and Israel’s Shahar Peer had first played together at the 2005 Japan Open, reaching the semi-finals. But before the January 2006 Australian Open, the Indian had ended the partnership under “pressure”, apparently from people angry at a Muslim pairing up with a Jew.

Shahar said she was delighted at the rethink by her close friend. “I always enjoyed playing with Sania. But she asked if we could stop playing together because of pressures,” she said. “I was pleasantly surprised when she suggested playing together at the French Open last month, but I had already promised to partner Dinara Safina. I’m really pleased to be with her again.”

The 16th seeds will take on the American-Swedish pair of Lisa Osterloh and Sofia Andersson in the first round.

Sania had decided to partner Shahar at the February 2006 Bangalore Open, too, but backtracked “to prevent protests against my co-operation with an Israeli”.

The Hyderabadi girl had earlier drawn a fatwa over her short skirts on court. Her parents couldn’t be contacted in London and her relatives didn’t wish to comment on her latest decision.

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