India's ace badminton player Jwala Gutta has backed tennis star Sania Mirza's claims that the manner in which the All India Tennis Association used her as bait to pacify an unhappy Leander Paes reeked of male chauvinism, and said it has been a long standing problem in Indian sports.
Speaking to NDTV, Gutta said: "AITA should have consulted Sania before taking the decision. It's shocking the way they dealt with the entire episode."
"AITA should have done this in a civil manner. No excuse for such behaviour towards women athletes. The association should have called the players and everybody's opinion would have mattered. It not only brings bad name for tennis, but bad name to the way the whole system works," she said.
Gutta also said that male chauvinism has always been there and it can discourage women from taking up sports as their career. "It's always been there. I have suffered the same way. It is quite ridiculous. We have so many female athletes, big names who have done really well in sports. Many might be afraid to take up sports as career," she said.
Sania broke her silence on the whole tennis row after she was awarded a wild card in the women's doubles event at the London Olympics on Tuesday.
In a press release on Tuesday, Sania criticised the All India Tennis Association (AITA), Leander Paes, his father Dr. Vece Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi for their roles in the tennis crisis.
Sania lashed out at AITA for their decision to pair her with Leander Paes in the mixed doubles event to get the latter to agree to participate at the London Games, saying the decision reeked of 'male chauvinism'.Â Â
"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.
"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'.