Controversies were blessings in disguise: Sania

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Sania's roller-coaster career has been marred by several off-court furores. But, she says the experience as it helped her grow.

Updated: June 28, 2008 09:49 IST
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Until a few months ago off-court controversies had infuriated Sania Mirza to such an extent that she vowed never to play on Indian courts again but now the tennis ace says she actually enjoyed the experience as it helped her grow.

"...I think it's all been an experience, and, as funny as that sounds, I've enjoyed everything, because if I stop living my life and stop enjoying it, then I probably would have quit a long time ago," Sania said after advancing to the second round of Wimbledon Championships with a hard-fought first-round win.

Sania's roller-coaster career has been marred by several off-court furores. Opposition to her on-court attire, which was dubbed skimpy by some fundamentalist Muslim groups, a court case for allegedly disrespecting the national flag were just a couple of unwanted issues she has been forced to grapple with since turning pro in 2005.

In fact, she got so tired of the controversies that she decided against playing on Indian courts altogether, a decision she is now willing to reconsider.

"I just think they've made me grow up a lot more, but I don't think they've left any scars. I think it's all been an experience, some good, some bad. But I've come through it and I think that's the most important thing," she said in hindsight.

"Today I'm here, and I think there's nothing more I want to ask for, just to be healthy. And yeah, stay out of controversies! That's happening," the 21-year-old quipped.

Sania says she has learnt to accept such furores as part of her life and no longer allows them to affect her peace of mind.

"That's something that's been there for a while now and it's become a part of my life. It's not coping anymore. I think it's just I've accepted that that's how it is," she said.

"If you asked me the question four years ago, maybe I would have still been coping with it. But it's become a part of my life and I enjoy it.

"I love living in India and I love going back home and all those things," she added.

The wrist injury that forced her out of action for three months took away the entire clay court season from her, but Sania is not complaining as she did not want to rush back and risk her fitness in an Olympic year.

"My expectation of myself when I went into that surgery was that I want to be fit for Olympics. I had a choice to sit out for four weeks and try and come back to French Open but it's not a solution," she said.

"I just had to make a decision whether it was important for me to play the Olympics this year. Probably if it was not an Olympic year, I would have probably stayed out," she said.

Sania will take on Spanish qualifier Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez for a place in the last 32 in Wimbledon.

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