The year was 2010. A young couple was tying the knot. But for this couple, two nations were probably more invested in their relationship than the two people involved.
It was the blessed union of Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik, and watching them closely were the many citizens of India and Pakistan.
After a whirlwind cross-border romance, these two sports stars were finally getting married. It could've been dubbed as 'Veer-Zaara: sports edition’.
The boy was an established Pakistani cricketer, and the girl was India’s favourite (and at the time, the only famous female) tennis player. Their love story was like a Bollywood version of an Indo-Pak match; if you have grown up in the continent of Asia and not living under a rock, you would know how big of a spectacle is that.
Cut to eight years later, Sania Mirza gives birth to baby boy Izhaan Mirza. People on both sides of the borders rejoice, along with fans, friends and family.
The Love Story
Story mei pyaar tha, drama tha, controversies thi, exes the, or bohot saara masala tha.
The ‘Raj’, this time, was sarhad ke uss paar. His dulhania ki doli was on its way there from this side of the border.
When the news about Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik’s forthcoming nuptials broke, people on both sides of the border were all up in their business; much like in Veer-Zaara. Many in Pakistan were still rejoicing because ‘bhabhi ghar aa rahi thi’. Most in India, however, were not so thrilled about the union.
Positive or not, there was a lot of interest. People were as invested in their personal matter as the pados-wali-aunty.
Reports say Sania met Shoaib in Australia and it was love at first sight. Romance budded, and soon, the two decided to marry.
But alas, they between them came the border of Hindustan and Pakistan!
Soon, instead of being about two possibly star-crossed lovers, the story became about two-warring countries...and then, about Shoaib and Sania’s exes.
In 2009, Sania was engaged to childhood sweetheart Sohrab Mirza. But then came rumours of Sohrab’s family wanting Sania to give up tennis post-marriage. That was the end of their union. However, there were also speculation of Sania having called off the engagement because of Shoaib.
It is still conjecture as none of the involved parties gave an official statement.
Shoaib’s Former Marriage
Trouble for the couple had not ended yet.
After Sania and Shoaib announced their wedding plans, a woman named Ayesha, from Sania’s native place of Hyderabad, claimed that she was Shoaib Malik's lawfully-wedded wife.
After vehemently denying the allegations, Shoaib finally accepted his marriage to Ayesha, after she produced a marriage certificate.
After that whirlwind controversy over his marital status, Shoaib officially divorced Ayesha, and finally married Mirza in a starry ceremony.
This was also the time when, after battling many injuries, Sania transitioned into a doubles player and tasted unprecedented success.
With all its oppositions and controversies, this cross-border love story finally landed it happily-ever-after, giving believers hope.
(This story was first published on 1 November 2018 and has been reposted from The Quint's archives to mark Sania Mirza’s 32nd birthday.)