Thursday, April 8, 2010

G for Glamour

When the Indian tennis player, Sania Mirza, burst into the third round of the Australian Open in 2005, she began attracting mass publicity and not just in India. She came like a breath of fresh air in a world ruled by the Williams sisters- stunningly attractive, immensely talented, and with a great future ahead of her.

Not as strong as the current lot of players, she brought in the crowds like few of them could. Long before she was seeding in any Grand Slam tournament, her growing popularity ensured that her matches were being scheduled on Centre Court.
She was the darling of a nation with few sporting icons to look upto, and her combination of raw talent and stunning looks ensured she had an equally large fan following outside the country.

Great things were expected to Sania Mirza, but somehow she never quite lived upto the promise she displayed. One of the first endorsement deals she signed was for a manufacturer of gold jewellery- that turned out to be prophetic. After the initial few months, she started generating more column inches for her lifestyle than for her game. Link-ups with Bollywood stars, controversies over her sartorial choices.
Suddenly, the Golden Girl could do no right. She was the brand ambassador for a campaign to save the girl child, but generated more column inches when Muslim clerics criticised her for wearing "un-Islamic" clothes on the court. Instead of being projected as a role model for girls in the sub-continent, people chose to stir up unnecessary controversy when, at a press conference, she inadvertently put up her feet on a table which had the national flag.
A different person may have fought back and silenced her critics with her performance, but the Glamour Girl didn't. Five years after she hit the limelight, her second serve remains as weak as ever. On a good day, she is still one of the best players around, but there is no consistency in her performance. All these years later, she is still a mine of talent, but perhaps it is now too late to extract the gold.

She is now making headlines of a different kind. She's getting married to the equally controversial Pakistani cricketer, Shoaib Malik, and speculation is rift about whether she will continue to play after marriage, and if so, for which country. There are also the people who question if she is marrying for love, or into a betting syndicate. And I am not even getting into the soap-operaish saga of the alleged previous marriage of Shoaib's - the truth of which may never be known.

To me, those conversations are purely academic- all that matters is that she is unlikely to ever become the player she could have been. She's gone on record saying that the only thing she is currently bothered about is whether her hair looks good on her wedding day or not. She seems to have completely forgotten about the hard court season that is currently going on, and the amount of tennis she is missing.

And while I wish the couple well, I can't help wondering. Had Sania Mirza not been as attractive and glamourous as she is, would she have achieved her full potential as a tennis player?


dipali said...

That's the million dollar question!

Mason Canyon said...

Does make you wonder doesn't it. It's a shame the two can't go together, but it doesn't ever seem to work out that way.

Marjorie said...

It seems to me it was because she was attractive that all the controversy was generated in the first place, and then she couldn't help but live up to all the negative hype. At least, that's what I gather from the story. I have to wonder if it wasn't the jealousy of women who wanted to be her and the guilt of the religious and/or married men felt for wanting her that was the root of the negativity.

Perhaps if she had had bad teeth or something she would have lived up to her potential. But then she would have been unhappy still for not being attractive.

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Very insightful post. I makes me angry when things like this happen. Us women are just never gonna kick that stereotypical impression of either smart or beautiful, but not both. Pisses me off. 'Scuse my language ...

Momo's Ma said...

hey, i have been inspired by u to take the a to z blog challenge. n i have kept at it from a till now. but mine is not really related to a word.sicne its a blog abt my baby, i have tried to link it in n played around with words n started with the letter of the day. i know i have a couple of posts till letter J, but not sure after that. :)

Not enough hours! said...

@ dipali - isn't it sad. At least Saina N doesn't let fame go to her head.

@ Mason - something like Anna Karnikova, I guess. That girl never lived up to her potential either.

@ Marjorie - oh yes, the clergy definitely over-reacted because she was an attractive young lady. In real life she was always conventionally dressed (jeans or Indian clothes), so I don't see why they had to make such a big deal of what she wore "at work".
We'll never know, which is the pity.

@ TAA - you make a very valid point. Either smart or pretty, but not both together. And the girls who are smart and pretty often feel the need to downplay one, so they conform.

@ Momo's Ma - that's fantastic. I'll hop across today and see. I is as far as I have gone- can't even think of words that start with J :-(


I love to watch tennis at Wimbledon on TV, I hope Andy Murray wins one day. we have not got any strong women players. He almost got to the Grand Slam last time round.

Have a good day.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why women can't be both smart and gorgeous! They don't have to choose between the two - surely?

Ron said...

When she first announced her engagement to Shoaib Malik, people had all sorts of opinions, the most commonly expressed one being "Why a Paki". But my point is why marriage so early? She is just 23/ 24 years old. Why not focus on her career for another 4 - 5 years and at least make some effort to hit the big league? I guess she has completely lost focus...or maybe she never had that focus or the drive in the first place.

Ann Elle Altman said...

She really is a beautiful girl and it's very easy to want the limelight and the money and jewelery when you're young. She will always probably regret that she never did more with her game.


Not enough hours! said...

@ Yvonne - someday, I dream of watching one match on Centre Court. It doesn't have to be the Finals or the Semi-finals, just one match.

@ Fiona - Personally, I see no reason why they should be only one or the other. I can think of a lot of women who are doing well professionally and are also attractive physically. But for some strange reason, most of them underplay their looks. Why, I just don't know.

@ Ron - ditto. If the lady wants to get married, a Paki is as good as anyone else. But why marriage, and why in such a hurry. Daal mein kuch kala zaroor hai.
But I think she had given up on her career a long time back. Fame came so soon to her, she probably couldn't handle not continuing to get the same amount of it when she stopped being the 'rising star'

@ Ann - beautiful, she definitely is. The sad part is that she seems to have let the glamour of it all seduce her from something she could have been phenomenally good at.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's a good question! She reminds me of Anna Kournikova. She was young and beautiful but just never made it big in the tennis world. She didn't have any downfalls that I recall, but she eventually moved on to modeling instead.

Not enough hours! said...

@ Diane - she does, doesn't she? Unfortunately for Sania, she is not quite model material, even though she is very attractive.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a shame! She was pretty, too.

Watery Tart said...

Oh, the what if's on looks! They are so vast and sprawl everywhere don't they?

People with looks are cut breaks and so don't have to be nice to have 'friends', don't have to have as much talent to break through, don't have as many life obstacles, which somehow can end up a disadvantage--never learning to try hard, so when the looks go, they are screwed. They are always drawn into the limelight, and never know who their friends are...

Grammy said...

Hmmm. It is definitely a sad situation. Unfortunately, athletes are in the limelight and many have a difficult time dealing with it. Quite often, the fame goes to the head, and overtakes the common sense. Too bad...One needs to be grounded in their belief system so as not to be overwhelmed by the hype. I believe that in order not to be overcome, we need to think back to what is normal. I believe a woman should be able to have it all, beauty and brains, plus talent.
Best regards to you.

Raquel Byrnes said...

That is the question isn't it. Would all this have mattered had her face not sold so many papers? Would we even be aware? Not fair, for sure.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I wonder if it's like this for the two super-star Olympian skaters, Kim Yu-Na from South Korea and Mao Asada of Japan. It must be pretty hard for these young women to live a normal life.

Lisa said...

When I first started reading this and you mentioned her good looks, I thought to myself how unfortunate it is that that's what it boils down to. So yes, I think had she not been as attractive as she is, she would probably have reached her full potential. Just my opinion, though.

Great post!

Ellie said...

This is so sad...I think she could of had it all, with some hard work and not getting caught up with the lime light!

Not enough hours! said...

@ Alex - extremely.

@ Hart - I had an incredibly beautiful friend who once said, "I wish god hadn't made me so beautiful. I wish I were like you, then I would know who my real friends were".
Now I get it.

@ Ruby - beauty, brains, talent are all good to have, but like you say, the most important thing is emotional maturity.

@ Raquel - when she first came in the limelight, the girl was pure talent. Steffie Graft had said she was more talented that she had ever been. But where did that get her?

@ Patricia - near impossible to live normal lives, I am sure. Sometimes I am glad I am just me. At least I can live my life as I want.

@ Lisa - there is a less attractive badminton player in India, who doesn't get the endorsements, but is constantly improving on her game. Maybe it would have been the same for Sania too- who can tell?

@ Ellie - sad, isn't it? And thanks for dropping by.


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