Sania Mirza: There is a perception that women can be a distraction but not a strength

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Sania Mirza: There is a perception that women can be a distraction but not a strength

India's top doubles tennis star Sania Mirza shared her thoughts about being married to a cricketer Shoaib Malik and the challenges that come with it during an interview with Indian cricketers Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues on their YouTube show Double Trouble.

Being from India and married to a Pakistani cricketer has often made Mirza a target by cricket fans in both countries. “Me and Anushka (Sharma - wife of Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli) relate to this the most. Whenever our husbands perform it is because of them and whenever they don’t it is because of us.

I don’t know how that works.

"There is a much deeper issue is that women can always be a distraction but not a strength. That’s a cultural issue.

The Indian tennis player further explained her thoughts: ‘Oh, if your girlfriend or wife is there and you are going out for dinner, you are distracted.’ That doesn’t make sense.

Speaking about Australian cricketer Mitchell Starc flying back to support his wife Alyssa Healy, Mirza said, "When he went back to his wife for the World Cup final, everybody was hailing him. I was trying to picture Shoaib [Malik] do that for me, hell would have broken loose.

Anushka and I had a long conversation about it afterward”. The former World No. 1 doubles player also revealed that her association with cricket came much before her marriage to Malik and that if she was a boy, she would have probably played cricket as a sport and purchased a career.

“Obviously my husband is a cricketer but when I started playing, my dad used to play cricket. My uncle was a Ranji Trophy player, my dad’s brother-in-law was the captain of the Indian cricket team. So we had a lot of cricket in the family.

“The natural progression for me, if I was a boy, I would have just played cricket. Things have changed a lot over the past 10 years but when I started, it was unheard of for girls to pick up cricket bats. "My parents wanted me to play a sport. I used to rollerskate, swim, and play tennis. I happened to be a lot better at tennis than the other two."