Saina Nehwal makes no song-and-dance about her name or her (almost) namesake—merely her achievements.
What she said:
“If you’re starting your career and you have a name that is similar to a celebrity, it also gives you an added advantage.”
Saina Nehwal is not in the shadows anymore—certainly not Sania Mirza’s.
Speaking to Mint Indulge, the No.1 Indian woman badminton player said:
“For me, badminton is my love. And I was persuaded by my parents to follow it when I was quite young, say around eight years old. I have still not taken it as a profession, rather I take it as my duty and I enjoy it a lot. I have also been helped by the sacrifices that my family has made, the hard work of the coaches I worked with, the support of the financiers, love of the fellow countrymen and, of course, blessings of the almighty. But my parents are the producers of this badminton project. That is why I am here in badminton. Also, I love badminton because it does not know the boundaries of caste, creed, religion and nationality.”
About the media and Indian public initially confusing her with Sania Mirza, Indian women’s tennis icon, Nehwal responded:
“I think hard work pays. If you’re starting your career and you have a name that is similar to a celebrity, it also gives you an added advantage. She was an established player when I started and I might actually have been helped by her name in the past. Now that I too am doing some good work, people know me as Saina Nehwal and it feels good.”
What she really meant:
“What’s in a name? We’re both roses of Indian sport and how we arose. Who cares if I’m Sania Nehwal and she’s Saina Mirza? Besides, we’re both in the same racquet, aren’t we? They’re both racquet sports.”
What she definitely didn’t:
“Now if they’d only allow us badminton players to wear those cool skirts and tops like tennis players, I’d be a cool diva too.”