Moments after she was handed a wild card along with veteran Rushmi Chakravarthy in the women's doubles event for the London Games, Sania said, although she preferred Mahesh Bhupathi, she is ready to partner Paes in the larger interest of the country.
"As an Indian woman belonging to the 21st century, what I find disillusioning is the humiliating manner in which I was put up as a bait to try and pacify one of the disgruntled stalwarts of Indian tennis," Sania said in a statement in an apparent reference to Paes. The 25-year-old also hit out at the way she was "offered in compensation to partner one of the feuding champions purely in order to lure him into accepting to play with a men's player he does not wish to play with!"
"This kind of blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood needs to be condemned even if it comes from the highest controlling body of tennis in our country," she added. Paes has been paired with 206-ranked Vishu Vardhan in the men's doubles for the Olympics. In her statement, Sania was also critical of Leander's father, Dr Vece Paes, who had asked her to give a written commitment to pair up with his son. "To Dr Vece Paes, who has on camera asked me to give in writing about my intention of partnering his son for the mixed doubles event at the Olympics, I would like to point out that my commitment is to my country," she said.
"For the sake of India, I am committed to playing with Leander or Bhupathi or Bopanna or Somdev or Vishnu or any other person that my country feels I am good enough to partner. There should never ever be a question on this although if asked, I am entitled to have my preferences. I will do everything I possibly can to win a medal for India," she added. The Hyderabadi said it was demeaning for her and Vishnu that Paes had asked for a written assurance to consider pairing up with the lower-ranked player.
"To Leander, I would like to point out that Vardhan is an extremely talented player, who I had the privilege of partnering. We went on to win a silver for India at the 2010 Asian Games, when all the three male stalwarts of Indian tennis had opted to stay away."
"I am convinced that he can go one better when pitted with someone as good as Leander. For Leander, to consider partnering with Vishnu only if he has a written assurance from me to play mixed (as Vece Uncle has suggested in his television interviews) is, I think demeaning for me, Vishnu and Leander," she added.
Sania did not spare Bhupathi too and said the veteran had "sacrificed" his commitment to play with her at the Olympics after their French Open title win.