What are the different connotations that sports hold for us? Have its horizons expanded to accepting women, and how successful is it now?

29th August is celebrated as the National Sports Day, dedicated to the sportspersons and their hard work. It is a day to commemorate their contributions towards playing for our country and winning laurels. But, in reality, it is a day to celebrate popular sportsmen like Virat Kohli, with huge cults around them and few popular sports like cricket, which have a massive viewer-base. With a few days still left to this important day, why not realign our horizons and shift our focus?

PV Sindhu, Dutee Chand, Mithali Raj, Deepika Kumari, Tanlai Narzary, the Phogat sisters – over the past few years, Indian sportswomen have created a name and distinct space for themselves. However, the recognition from people still seems to be a far-fetched dream. But movies like Dangal and Mary Kom haved helped in garnering traction to and some attention towards their struggles. With these films, not only did they gain more recognition, but it also tackled the ideas of social stigma attached to women in sports.

Recently, there was a celebratory parade for the four-time Women’s World Cup Champions in the United States of America. This event is significant given that, not just in our country, but all over the world, women’s sporting events are disregarded. The idea behind this attitude often stems from the belief that their performance is not at par with those of the sportspersons in men’s sporting events. The only focus, if given at all, is upon their clothes and their outburst. 

Tennis, which is one of the only sporting places where women are seen as equals, also tends to gain attention only when Serena Williams displays her anger. What this normal emotion of rage is linked to is the idea of how women are ‘too emotional’. Women are represented in the light of being too sensitive in magazines and news pieces. What we do not realise is that this discrimination in terms of behaviour, pay, and popularity only pushes women to the background. 

The problems extend further to the lack of funding and even basic training conditions. Stories of sportspersons having to sell their medals to earn money, because they are not provided with anything, have become commonplace. Many talented sportswomen are not trained in the first place, due to the many obstacles that lie ahead.

Female products-oriented companies will now sponsor their events, in the big leagues, more companies now want to be front-of-shirt sponsors. India’s Dutee Chand opened up about her sexuality as a queer person recently, and fought the backlash she received from her village, in order to make a more inclusive environment for others like her. Megan Rapinoe has also come out with her partner, Sue Bird. These mark historic steps for our country and the way sportswomen demand respect. 

In a country like India, ideas of equality cannot be implemented immediately because of how our society thinks. But movies become an important access point to normalise this. The film, Chak De India, recently completed twelve years since its release. Despite being a decade old, its plot and issues remain relevant. It deals with women not being allowed to play sports, women’s teams being deprioritised, being considered at an inferior status from the men’s team, among other issues.

What has opened up today is a dialogue. Newspapers talking about the starkly different salaries for Kohli and Mithali Raj, advertisements campaigns trying to spread awareness – there are some of the things contributing to it. This dialogue may have just begun, but it could soon lead to equality among sportspersons of all genders. Maybe soon, people will stick to their televisions for a Women’s Cricket World Cup tournament, as they did for the one played by men.

Feature Image Credits: India Today

Shivani Dadhwal

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The Serbian defeated Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) in the Sunday final, en route his 13th Grand Slam title.

Novak Djokovic is finally back to the winning ways. This victory comes after his long spell of injuries, which kept him off the court for an entire year, and off the podium for two. His last title came at Roland Garros in 2016. While the tennis world was dedicating it’s attention to Roger Federer’s reincarnation, the Serbian master was slowly looking to find his way back to the court. He started playing tournaments, big and small, keeping off the limelight, just to mark a comeback of this magnitude.
And what a comeback this has been.

He had been playing every major tournament this year. Starting with the Australian Open, he was giving it all against every opponent, but to no avail. He was crushed in the Italian Open semi-finals at the hands of Rafael Nadal. Later Marin Cilic got the better of ‘Djoker’ in the Queen’s Club Championship final. But his fans, in the haze of all these disappointments, could see the gleaming signs of resurgence. Novak was hitting his forehands like always, holding his grounds to tackle the best of serves, and gliding across the court in his trademark style. They believed that a championship point was around the corner. They were right.

However confident his supporters had been, Novak himself was not expecting this prestigious title,more so against the Nadals and Federers of the game, nevertheless, the self-belief, which saw him win 12 slams in the times of absolute Rafa-Federer dominance was still there. “I did not expect to be back in the top shape already here in Wimbledon so quickly,” Djokovic said after the match. “If you asked me after Roland Garros, I would probably maybe doubt that. At the same time, there is a part of me that always believes in my own abilities, believes in my own quality of tennis, what I possess. Whenever I come to the tournament, and a Grand Slam especially, I believe I can have a good opportunity to fight for the trophy.”

The victory on Sunday was anything but a challenge for Djokovic. Anderson had certainly given it his best, and  it shows in the quarter final marathon against Roger Federer and the semis showdown against John Isner, but in the final he looked out of gas, while Novak had saved his best for the ends. The champion breezed past his opponent in his very own fashion, reminiscent of his heydays. By the time Anderson could chart his dominance in the third set, the game was all but over.

After the game, once again he ate the legendary Centre Court grass, this time he even found it sweet.

Throwback? Rightly so.


Feature Image Credits: Sky News

Nikhil Kumar
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Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College hosted an Inter-College Lawn Tennis Tournament with the finals being played on the 4th of March. Hansraj College and the hosts fought it out for the ultimate prize. The match followed a Best- Of –Three format with two single’s matches and a double’s match. Each match was a three-set match.

In the first single’s match, Kunal Anand from Khalsa college beat Dhruv Goel from Hansraj two sets to nil with a score of 6-1 and 6-3. In the next single’s match, Saurabh Singh from Hansraj beat his opponent, Rohit Bisht in straight sets with a score of 6-1 and 6-3.

With the game tied at 1-1, it was all to play for in the final match, which was a double’s match. Kunal Anand and Deepak Vishwakarma from Khalsa College beat Dhruv Goel and Saurabh Singh from Hansraj in a thrilling match to take home the final prize.

The final of the first Grand Slam of the year was set between the crowd-favourite and the top-seed, Rafael Nadal and the eighth seed, Stanislas Wawrinka.

The match started with blistering pace amidst the Australian twilight and a packed Rod Laver Arena. Both the players started the match strongly with the Swiss serving the first game. The match came alight in the fourth game of the set when Wawrinka break Nadal’s serve to take an early 3-1 lead. He then saved three break points to ultimately serve out the set for a 6-3 score.

The crowd was in for more shocking events when the 8th seed broke Nadal in the first game of the second set. He then held his serve to take an early lead of 2-0 over the Spaniard. While playing a shot from the baseline, Nadal let out in pain in the next game. He held his serve but quickly went away for a medical time-out, while Wawrinka argued with the ref for complete disclosure of the injury. Nadal came out after six minutes but only for his fans to see his performance drop. The Spaniard lost the second set 6-2.

However, Nadal was not going out without a fight. He broke the Swiss’s serve in the second game of the match to win the third set 6-3.

The top seed started the fourth set much strongly. While Nadal’s fans were praying for a comeback, the Swiss broke the Spaniard’s serve in the sixth game of the set to take a 4-2 lead. After that, it was all Wawrinka as he held his nerves to go on to win the Australian Open 2014.

He was the first man since 1993 to beat the world no.1 & 2 in a Grand Slam and also, the first man ever to beat Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in a Grand Slam.

Image Credit: Official Australian Open Facebook Page

2013 was nothing less than a five set thriller that had all of us at the edge of our seats from start to finish. There were stories that truly shook the tennis world both on and off the court. Andy Murray ended the British drought at Wimbledon and silenced his critics by annihilating Djokovic in the final. Marion Bartoli was the surprise package of the year who won her first grand slam and then immediately threw in the towel on her career. However the question that seemed to be on everybody’s mind was whether it is time for the most successful tennis player of all time to end his glorious career. Luckily for FedEx fans, the master chose to continue fighting.

That being said, 2014 is all set to be a dead set ripper and the proceedings start in Melbourne with the Australian Open. The Rod Laver Arena has seen some historic matches and has often witnessed major upsets. The men’s draw continues to be extremely competitive. The big four are all set to battle it out on the blue courts but there are plenty of other names in the list of contenders for the title. Tsonga, Ferrer and Berdych plan on challenging the dominance of the big four and will not go out without a fight. Out of the big four, Djokovic is being hailed as the favorite because of his hot run of form and track record at the Australian Open. The title race has evolved to a point where nobody is a true favorite and the draw is wide open.

On the women’s side of the draw, the obvious favorites for the title are Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. Williams, who made a remarkable comeback after a major blood clot has dominated the circuit and is looking to equal the greats like Navratilova and Billie Jean King. Azarenka the young challenger has defeated Williams recently and is high on confidence. Many critics argue that the level of the women’s game has deteriorated because no player seems to have the necessary staying power. Asian hope Li Na is a possible challenger for the title and Aussie fans will be rooting for local hope Sam Stosur.

All in all it is hard to predict who will walk away with the first grand slam title of the year but there is no doubt that it will be a sporting spectacle. Don’t miss out on any of the action as the players serve, slice, drop and smash the ball starting on the 13th of January. It’s fair to call the end of the year ‘deuce’ and it will be interesting to see who takes the ‘advantage’ in the new year.


Image credit: sawyerpointtennis.com

There is an ancient Wimbledonian saying, mostly untranslatable but it goes something like “If chance made you a woman and you want to be a champion of Wimbledon, you gotta have big boobs. And blond hair. And body of some Amazonian jungle goddess from a hormonal teenager’s fantasy. If you are a man, you just gotta play well.” As the time passed, this sacred law has been withheld by generations of long legged Sharapovas and Mladenovics who have marched on and have become famous for their “supermodel looks”, their winning one title after another notwithstanding. Yes, that’s why female tennis players were allowed to play professionally in the first place, to look like supermodels giddying around on the court. Why didn’t they just get Kate Moss to do all that?

In a world where feminism is a dirty word and where cracking sexist jokes are the in thing to do, sports were thought to be the great equalising force, a place where only talent and tenacity were the criterion to achieve greatness. Where not having the male member dangling between your legs was not supposed to be a handicap, a handicap which would underscore the rest of a woman’s life. But the silent sexism in sports all these years long, followed by the recent examples of not-so-silent sexism show how even in the supposed gender non-discriminating arena of athletics, the old ugly face of sexism persists.

The Bartoli vs. Lisicki women’s single match was one of the most famous this season and for all the wrong reasons. It would be expected that after winning the match, Bartoli would either be appreciated for her skills on the court or panned for the same. She was after all an athlete who had just won a major title. But the backlash that followed had nothing to do with the game but something so completely unrelated to the sport that it boggles the mind as to how people could connect the two. While single digit IQ levelled Twitter warriors had a field day branding her “undeserving” of the title because of her looking the way she does, the BBC commentator, John Iverdale jumped into a retelling of an imagined conversation between Bartoli and her father/coach, where the latter supposedly tells his daughter how she was “never going to be a looker” and because of which she had to be extra “gritty” in her game.

Another incident following Andy Murray winning the men’s single reflects on the retaining power of the audience of matters related to women in sports. After the win against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, the British media went on to celebrate Murray as the redeemer of the British nation. Headlines like “A win after 77 years” crowded the newsstands. What went unnoticed until later was that in between Murray’s win and Fred Perry’s 77 years ago, three Britishers had already won singles titles in the tournament. The fact that those three were female gave the media the right to go into memento mode and forget about the past winners since Perry. Of the three, Virginia Wade was the most celebrated after her win 36 years ago. The other two were Annabel Croft and Laura Robson, who won the Girls’ singles in 1984 and 2008 respectively. The fact that people could just forget such achievements seem especially cruel after knowing what Wade said in an interview after her historic win, “You never forget how it feels to win Wimbledon.”

The incident involving Bartoli drags to the limelight the sexist practices that tournaments like Wimbledon are still preserving. While the male player is supposed to spend his time and resources on bettering his game, any digression being scrutinised and criticised by the media and the commentators alike, the female player is expected to only keep up the Disney Princess appearance.Such trivialization gains from the patronising attitude towards sportswomen in general, which leads to further breeding of such sexist understanding in the succeeding generations. This completes the circle where however much may the sportswoman achieve, at the end of the day her worth is decided by men on how pleasing she is to their eyes.

The Tumblr post by Public Shaming cataloguing the insensitive outcry on Twitter over how Bartoli was undeserving of her title because of how she looked showed just how wide spread sexism is. People who would not usually watch Tennis matches, let alone interested in women’s sports, would air their opinions on just how much they were offended by her winning the match and how much they wanted Sabine Lisicki to win. What goes uncommented upon is how equally insulting this is for Lisicki too, whose right to win the title was appropriated because of her looks and not by the fact that she had reached the finals in the first place.

In the Indian context, Sania Mirza was made popular more for her appearance than her skills, which reflected in the national love and obsession with her remaining constant, irrespective of her form on-court, from the start of her career to her marriage to Shoaib Malik, when she suddenly “betrayed” the nation by marrying a Pakistani. In contrast, no one cares about how Mahesh Bhupathi or Leander Paeslook on or off court. Their game matters, in case of Mirza, only her looks.

While on the topic of Wimbledon, another sexist practise that goes uncommented upon is the way female players are referred to in the tournament. While the names of the male players are used to refer to them respectively, the married female players are referred to by the names of their husbands. You may be Plain Jane off the court, but when you are trying to win a game on the merit of your own skills, independent of the dis/name of your husband, you will still be known as Mrs. John Doe. The fact that as recent as 2010, a female player was referred to not by her own name but by her husband’s should be infuriating enough. Queen Victoria might have had her last breath more than a century ago but the crooked notion of gender politics of her times still continues to survive to this date.

The least we could do is acknowledging the fact that sexism does exist, even in sports, something a lot of people feel uncomfortable accepting.

And until then, we could only yearn for a time and place when people would judge a person’s worth by the thoughts that crowd their mind and the deeds that come to pass by their hands and not the clothes they happen to wear.


The lush green grass, the early morning look of the courts, the white dress code, world’s best players all ready to fight it out  and the charm of the best Grandslam that seems to have engulfed the masses. Yes, it’s Wimbledon time of the year again. For some of us, it’s sheer joy to witness some classic tennis every year on those courts. For some others, rivalries are renewed. It’s the age old division of die heart fans into two camps- Federer  v/s Nadal , yet only a few can refute the tension and the excitement that ensues a Federer-Nadal final at Wimbledon.

And this year happened to be no different. With hopes that high and enthusiasm reaching new levels, we were all set to go all out and root for our tennis champions. But soon enough, those hopes were to be shattered. The string of improbable exits began with Rafael Nadal who had to exit the first round as world number 135 Steve Darcis pulled off one of the biggest successes of his career. This gave a sense of jubilation to the Federer camp which now seemed to have an upper hand. But no sooner, they too were slumped to a shock with the Seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer being stunned by the 116th ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round of Wimbledon.

Well, just when we thought things couldn’t get worse and probably there’s still hope the tournament lost six former No. 1 players on Wednesday: Sharapova, Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, and Ana Ivanovic among the women and  Lleyton Hewitt amongst the men.

What was to come more recently was yet another Wimbledon shocker and tragedy with Serena Williams joining the growing list of marquee names eliminated early at this wild and unpredictable championship.

While some of us have called this one of the worst Wimbledon Championships the world has witnessed, there is always a brighter side. With Djokovic and Andy Murray being the last hope for a lot of us, we should perhaps not underplay the immense potential this tournament brings out every year in terms of discovering new talent and for all you know there might be a lot of new Nadals in the making. So for that and the love of tennis which is just unmatched  when it is played at this Grand Slam which has its own charm, let’s keep our fingers crossed  and still be glued to our television sets.

Image Credit: Wimbledon 2013 official website

A Wimbledon smitten Andy Murray thwarted Roger Federer’s hopes of winning an Olympic Gold last week. Federer who was on a roll after his Wimbledon victory over Murray was handed a straight set defeat by the Scot.

As the duo met again at Centre Court nobody could have foreseen a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 defeat for the Swiss giant. Murray also crushed Federer’s hopes of completing a Golden Slam- the title of holding all four major Grand Slam titles and an Olympic Gold Medal.

Murray did exhibit top form right from the beginning of the game as Federer could not shake off those early nerves. It was interesting to watch both players trying to dominate the game by means of their superior service games; however Murray displayed a great amount of control in his shots. Early on Federer was successful in averting a break point but did concede one in the middle of a superb rally in the first set and it was all downhill from there.

The second set saw Murray dominate his way through. The third game of this set was especially notable as Federer tried to raise his head and make a comeback but his efforts were foiled by Murray and his impeccable placement and coverage of court. Moreover Federer also failed to convert several break point opportunities, something which cost him the set. Murray glided through the rest of the set although Federer’s control of his emotions was notable- something he is known for.

The way the third set unfolded made everyone think that the game was not beyond recovery for Federer. However Murray kept the pressure on and broke the Federer serve to give himself a 3-2 lead over the Swiss. This game was consolidated as Murray went on to turn his score to 4- 2 in the next game. But just when he thought he had it in the bag Federer held on to his serve in a nerve wrecking game that followed. We saw glimpses of the Federer genius returning to court here. Still pumped with the home crowd support Murray held onto his serve in the next game and dictated terms to Federer right from the baseline. Federer did exceptionally well as he served to stay in the match and held Murray to 5- 4 in this game. The crowd roared as Murray stepped in to serve for the match- for the Olympic Gold and he sure clinched the Gold with tremendous ease, unleashing three aces as he sent waves of jubilation through the hearts of his supporters and family. It must have been a long walk from the baseline to the net and back to the dressing room for Federer. While we could see Murray make his way up to the player’s box to share his elation with his support team- coaches, friends and especially his proud mother who could not control her tears.

Murray punching the air, a proud mother, Federer walking back- well acknowledged by the crowd and a very supportive and ecstatic audience- these were the final scenes as the Olympic Gold Title match in Men’s Singles came to a close.

All in all, the entire showdown left the tennis world in awe. The surprising fact was that many a times, Federer was given a taste of his own medicine by Murray in the form of unexpected forehands and craftily placed backhands, where Federer could not even move a muscle towards the ball. It is safe to say that Murray has come a long way from the Wimbledon defeat and even though Federer still holds the world number 1 crown this has to be a watershed match in his career.

Keeping the Wimbledon title match and the Olympic Finals in mind, we would love to see these two titans clash again in the future and show us what gentlemen’s tennis is all about.


Anugrah Gopinath
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