Mirza regrets 'dirty' Indian Olympics row

26 Jun 2012 19:47:56

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Sania Mirza branded India's Olympic tennis furore "mucky and dirty" but said doubles partners had to be friends first and foremost.

The Indian star had her place in the Olympic doubles confirmed on Tuesday, shortly after she kicked off her Wimbledon campaign with a win.

But in the men's doubles, India's top player Leander Paes, the world number seven, was paired with 209th-ranked Vishnu Vardhan, after Rohan Bopanna (13) and Mahesh Bhupathi (15) both said they would not play with him for a string of personal and professional reasons.

Bhupathi said Paes was not trustworthy and the row even drew in India's foreign affairs and sports ministers.

"It's not a nice situation," Mirza told AFP.

"Obviously it wasn't the ideal situation you want before an Olympics.

"I'm just happy that it's kind of settled. Most people are getting what they want. It was a tricky situation but they handled it somehow.

"It's not the kind of publicity you want for any sport," she added.

"It got really mucky and dirty with everyone saying all kinds of things.

"Having said that, I think people should realise that tennis players have emotions too and there's certain kinds of emotions that cannot be hidden all the time.

"People do forget that being celebrities, we are also normal human beings with likes and dislikes towards people."

Mirza is playing once again with American extrovert Bethanie Mattek-Sands at Wimbledon and stressed the importance of friendship in doubles pairings.

"It's really important for partners to be friends first, I think that really helps," the 25-year-old said.

"When you have tight situations, the chemistry and the friendship gets you through. Even if you lose some matches, you'll win more than you lose.

"You know that your partner's always there for you regardless of whether you have good days or bad days and when you're friends, it's easier to deal with certain things.

"If you don't get along off the court... I think sometimes it does cause certain issues."

Mattek-Sands is known for her wacky dress sense, wearing knee-high socks, face paint and lurid outfits but the American has not convinced her doubles partner to follow suit.

"At the US Open I wore leopard print and everyone asked if she was going to and -- no!", the American said.

Mirza, a Muslim, added: "I'm more traditional in my dressing on court and she's not at all! It's funny because in some things we're completely opposite but we're so similar as people."

The 13th seeds beat Russia's Alla Kudryavtseva and Sloane Stephens of the United States 6-4, 6-2 on Tuesday.

Mirza will contest the Wimbledon mixed doubles with Bhupathi.

At the London 2012 Games in July and August she will also compete in the mixed doubles, and is paired in the ladies' doubles with regular Fed Cup partner Rushmi Chakravarthi.

"I'm really happy to know that I'm going to the Olympics and will come back to Wimbledon," said Mirza, who is playing mixed doubles at Wimbledon with Bhupathi.

"Competing in the Olympics is one of the biggest stages, if not the biggest so I'm just happy that I'm going and will obviously try to win a medal."

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