I've been following Sania Mirza's modest success in tennis with some interest, she has certainly done country proud, specially when she won against Svetlana Kuznetsova in Dubai Open in march this year. At the same time, i'm perplexed at the publicity she receives, as it is not proportionate to her success and how media makes anything trivial about her as news (particularly in Deccan Chronicle, where a day doesn't go by without news item on her) and overstating her chances of success in a game. This makes me wonder, whether we don't know how to handle success which we achieve once in a while, so that we exaggerate things? or we don't have enough sports stars to write about or cheer for (other than cricketers)?. When i ask myself a basic question that why our people prefer tennis in the first place, as many of us give damn for our national sport kabadi! or for that matter any other sport (except cricket)?.
I think answers for these questions lies in the role of media and glamour of Sania in attracting masses to this game. Our yearning media has found someone, who is marketable with her glamour( also other factors) and who has modest success under her belt. Generally for a person to take interest in a new game, either the game should be appealing to him/her or they should have interest in someone, who participates in the game and for our people its the later case, since many people just follow only sania's games due to glamour and patriotism and doesn't have much interest in other tennis players or bother about news relating to the tennis world, for that matter most doesn't even know rules of the game. If one thinks that the glamour has nothing to do with her publicity & popularity, then they are wrong, we have many athletics and chess players who have achieved greater heights than sania in their respective sport, but there are in oblivion.
Media has created inflated image of her which will overshadow other deserving players as Koneru Humpy. Sania's world tennis ranking is 34 and Koneru Humpy is a women grand master with world ranking of 6 (in 2004 she was placed in 3rd place) and she has distinction of being first indian woman to achieve the Men's GM Title at age of 15 years, 1 Month, which in itself is a world record for Youngest-Ever Women to achieve the Men's GM Title. With so much talent she is starved of resources. Both the players are from the Andhra Pradesh state, Recently Humpy has made a appeal to the State government of Andhra Pradesh for their financial assistance, which she desperately needed to be trained for the world chess championships coming up early next year. But shockingly, state government has rejected her request and allocated 20 lakhs to Sania for her performance in the US Open and also decided to sponsor her visits abroad to participate in tournaments and her traveling coach John Farrington, where as already in last 3 months she had received total about 60 lakhs and housing plot from the state. Sania has corporate sponsor and earns lot of money through her endorsements and more over she has declared that she wouldn't be needing any financial support anymore. Let us suppose, if something of this kind is done to Sania would our media and public remain quite? perhaps no. People may view chess as a game where 2 persons push pieces of wood on 64 squares, this perspective could be changed, if our media promotes sports instead of individuals and stop exaggerating significance of reaching 4th round of a particular grand slam.
It is not the public who takes interest but it is the media who creates interest!.