The All India Tennis Association has urged the players to stop going public and join hands for the London Olympics. This after Sania Mirza lashed out at the sport's governing body for using her as bait to appease a disgruntled Leander Paes.
"We earnestly appeal to all the players to unite together, shed off all their differences, stop going public and join hands together in the best national interest of winning medals for the country and to bring glory to the nation," the AITA said in a statement.
The AITA has paired Mahesh Bhupathi with Rohan Bopanna and Paes with Vishnu Vardhan for the men's doubles event in London. They also announced that it will be Paes who will play the mixed doubles with Sania.
Sania, who remained quiet on the tennis row all this while, finally broke her silence on Tuesday after she got a wild card for doubles event. In her press statement, Sania said: "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!"
In its response, the AITA said: "AITA respects all its players and is fully aware of the accomplishments of Sania Mirza as an excellent tennis player. AITA believes that Leander & Sania together are capable of producing fantastic results in the Olympics." Â
"As regards selection of teams, the selection committee on 21st June, the last date for nomination, noted that Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna had made themselves not available for selection with Leander Paes despite efforts of AITA. The Committee then selected Leander Paes with Vishnu Vardhan as his doubles partner as Vishnu Vardhan was the preferred partner and also Silver Medalist in Asian Games. The committee also decided that wild card application be made for Somdev Devvarman and for Sania Mirza for both women's singles as well as women's doubles as without a wild card she will not be eligible to play mixed doubles. Â
"The committee, thereafter, selected world No. 7 and India No. 1 Leander Paes to partner world No. 12 and India No. 1 Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles Olympics event. With a combined ranking of 19 they were placed 9th in the top 12 teams to be eligible for mixed doubles. This selection is purely on merits," the AITA said.