New Delhi: Tennis star Sania Mirza would retain her strong brand value despite her decision to shun Indian tournaments in protest at being dragged into needless controversies, Indian advertisers said.
The 21-year-old player is skipping next month’s Bangalore Open, rattled by a court case last month which alleged she showed disrespect to the national flag, an offence punishable by jail.
“Sania has become a brand not because she won a few matches in India or because of her ranking,” Santosh Desai, CEO of India’s Future Brand, toldHindustan Times .
“It is because of her success worldwide, and if she continues to play well and make us buy into the idea of her international success, sponsors will continue to support her,” Desai added.
Mirza’s popularity has rivalled cricketers in India since she became the first Indian woman to win a tour event in 2005. Having notched up to a high of the 29th rank in WTA ratings, the Hyderabad lass enjoys many commercial endorsements.
The Muslim player has also had to pay a price for her popularity, however, and has been at the centre of a series of controversies.
She faced an edict from a Muslim group for playing in normal tennis attire soon after her rise to prominence.
In December, she apologized to Mosque officials in hometown Hyderabad following a police complaint for trespass after she shot an advertisement film in its premises.
Mirza said last month she even contemplated quitting tennis because of the issues.
Her boycott decision has won support from doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi, her mixed doubles partner and manager, but Davis Cup captain Leander Paes has urged Mirza to handle such issues better.