How could a seasoned journalist like Rajdeep Sardesai appear so crass, insensitive and sexist on national television?
That’s the question that must be uppermost in the minds of most of his fans (I am one of his many admirers—he also happens to be a Xavierite) when the veteran journo committed a faux pas by asking India’s number one female tennis star, Sania Mirza , the following query:
“Amidst all the celebrityhood, when is Sania going to settle down? Is it going to be in Dubai? Is it going to be in any other country? What about motherhood… building a family… I don’t see all that in the book, it seems like you don’t want to retire just yet to settle down.
…You don’t talk about retirement, about raising a family, about motherhood, what’s life beyond tennis is going to be…”
The response was swift and acerbic—typical Sania.
“You sound disappointed that I’m not choosing motherhood over being number one in the world at this point of time. But I’ll answer your question anyway, that’s the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face — the first is marriage and then it’s motherhood. Unfortunately, that’s when we’re settled, and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or number ones in the world we become, we don’t become settled. But eventually it will happen, not right now. And when it does happen I’ll be the first one to tell everybody when I plan to do that.”
Sardesai quickly backtracked realising his erroneous line of questioning.
“I must apologise, I framed that question very badly. I promise you, you’re right, I would never ask this question to a male athlete…”
True, very true. Such a question would never be put to a male sportsperson.
Neither should it be put to any sportsperson.
There was very little logic or reasoning to Sardesai’s enquiry. These are the type of questions every single career woman (or man) learns to field from ‘friendly’ , inquisitive neighbourhood ‘aunties‘—not from a TV presenter of Sardesai’s caliber.
While not detracting from the many sacrifices she has made to come so far, it must be pointed out that Mirza is in her late 20s—not late 30s. She is a happily married, healthy young woman. She can have it all—should she choose.
The interrogation was improper. And Sardesai had his just desserts.
Mirza was on television promoting her autobiography ‘Ace against odds’ coauthored with her father Imran Mirza and journalist Shivani Gupta.