New Delhi: A day after Sania Mirza criticised Mahesh Bhupathi for sacrificing their pairing in the mixed doubles to keep his committment to play with Rohan Bopanna in the men's doubles at the London Olympics, Bhupathi has said that he is still "totally committed to Sania".
Despite Sania's harsh words for her senior partner in her statement on Tuesday, Bhupathi only had sympathy for her.
"I sympathise with Sania, I know where she's coming from," said Bhupathi to NDTV.
He added that, "If Sania and I get the opportunity we will play the Olympics together."
Earlier on Tuesday, Sania broke her silence on the tennis row after being awarded a wild card in the women's doubles event for the Olympics. She made it clear that she was upset with Bhupathi, her mixed doubles partner on the regular tennis circuit, for choosing to sacrifice his pairing with her to keep his team with Bopanna intact.
"Mahesh Bhupathi has firmly stood by his commitment to play together with his men's doubles partner, Rohan Bopanna as he genuinely believed it was good for India. However, in the process, he sacrificed the commitment he made to me to try and win an Olympic medal together for India. Each person has his or her own priorities and I would like to believe that Mahesh made his choice in the best interests of the country," she had said.
The AITA had announced their decision to pair Sania with Leander Paes, India's highest ranked player at No.7, in the mixed doubles as the latter was unhappy to have been teamed up with the much lower ranked Vishnu Vardhan in the men's doubles. The AITA had been left with little choice after both Bhupathi and Bopanna refused to partner Paes at the Olympics. AITA had to finally give into their demands and Bhupathi and Bopanna were eventually paired together.
However, this came at a price for Bhupathi as AITA chose Paes to partner Sania and not Bhupathi even though the duo won the French Open less than three weeks ago.
The ace tennis player said she had been offered as bait to pacify Paes and get him to give his nod for participation at the Games.
"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. (Read full text of Sania's letter)
"While I feel honored and privileged to have been chosen to partner Leander Paes, the manner and timing of the announcement wreaks of male chauvinism where a two time Grand Slam champion, who has been India's number 1 women's tennis player for almost a decade in singles and doubles is 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!
She added this arrangement by the AITA was a 'blatant humiliation'.
"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."