She’s India’s tennis ace. He’s a high-profile Pakistani cricketer. They are the citizens of rival nations, and yet they’re all set to get married in Hyderabad early next month.
Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik are planning a small, private ceremony in Hyderabad, but their match will inevitably generate huge interest in their respective countries.
The couple will be based in Dubai, though Sania will continue to play tennis and represent India, while Shoaib will turn out for Pakistan. The alliance has been blessed by both families.
Malik, 28, has been fighting a 12-month ban by the PakistanÂ Cricket Board for poor performance and indiscipline.
“This is the biggest day of my life. I have been in the media glare for too long, and would appreciate a little privacy at this very personal moment,” Sania, 23.
Shoaib, 28, has pledged Sania his support: “I fully understand what it takes to be an international sportsperson. I’ll support Sania in her career as long as she wishes to play.”
“Representing India at the 2012 Olympics is very important for her, and I will be the proudest husband if she can win a medal for her country,” he said.
Marriages between citizens of the rival nations are not entirely uncommon, with Muslim families who migrated to Pakistan after the nation was carved out in 1947 maintaining ties with families who remained in India.