Calcutta: Privately, the Leander Paes camp had been bracing for Sania Mirza to say something “provocative” once she got a wild card for the Olympics, but nobody could have prepared for the intercontinental missile fired by her.
Via a press release, Sania has torn into everybody — including, to an extent, Mahesh Bhupathi, her mixed doubles partner in the Grand Slams and a dear friend.
Leander and his father, Dr Vece Paes, have been singled out (not that the All India Tennis Association has been spared), which isn’t a surprise as Sania is closely identified with the Bhupathi group.
Barring periods of ceasefire, Leander and Bhupathi have been at war for a number of years.
Leander and Sania have been paired together for the mixed doubles in the Olympics, a ‘compromise’ from the Association which hasn’t pleased anybody.
One got through to Leander around 12.30 am on Wednesday, just as he’d finished practising at Big W. He told The Telegraph: “I’ve been training and I don’t have a clue as to who has said what... Right now, I’m focused on Wimbledon.”
Leander, the winner of 13 Grand Slams, will be featuring in the doubles (with Radek Stepanak) and in the mixed doubles (partnering Elena Vesnina).
Dr Paes, for his part, gave a clarification. “I didn’t seek a written guarantee from Sania... The point I’d made on the TV is that Leander and Sania have been paired together without either of them being consulted...
“That being so, who would guarantee their playing together at the Olympics? The Association should have first spoken to them,” he pointed out.
Thanks to the Association, which has become irrelevant, the mess is only spreading.
Forget about medals in tennis, today, it’s all about what nextů