New Delhi: India will send their biggest ever tennis contingent to the Olympics this time after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) issued wild cards to Sania Mirza and Somdev Dev Varman on Tuesday.
Sania was handed a wild card along with Rushmi Chakravarthy in women’s doubles, while Asian Games gold medallist Somdev Dev Varman received a wild card entry in the men’s singles event.
In fact Somdev, who pulled out of Wimbledon due to an injury, will be India’s only representative in the men's singles event.
With their entry, the number of Indian participants in the tennis event in London Games has gone up to seven. Earlier, two men’s doubles teams — Leander Paes-Vishnu Vardhan and Mahesh Bhupathi-Rohan Bopanna — have already been registered with the ITF.
In the mixed doubles event, Sania will pair up with Paes.
The elation about the prospect of seven Indians playing at the London Games, however, turned sour minutes after the ITF issued wildcard to Sania, who recently won the French Open mixed doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi.
Clearly indicating that she was not happy after being paired with Paes in mixed doubles, Sania issued a press release criticising the All India Tennis Association (AITA), Paes and his father Dr. Vece Paes on their roles in the recent tennis controversy.
Sania lashed out at the AITA, saying the decision reeked of “male chauvinism”. She added this arrangement by the AITA was a “blatant humiliation” for her.
A top AITA official, who did not wish to be named, told The Telegraph that he was not surprised by Sania’s statement.
“The arrangement that we made by bringing in the mixed doubles issue to push the ugly fight between the three men players under the carpet was a fragile solution. The matter should have been handled in a more matured way. After all, Sania is no small a star in Indian tennis,” he said.