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Last Updated: Friday, 18 November 2005, 17:40 GMT
Sania smashes 'hurtful' sex quote
By Omer Farooq
BBC News, Hyderabad

Sania Mirza
Mirza says she is upset her reputation has been maligned
Indian tennis star Sania Mirza has strongly denied saying she supports pre-marital sex after remarks attributed to her sparked protests.

The Muslim player said her comments at a leadership summit in Delhi had been misquoted and that pre-marital sex was a sin Allah could not forgive.

Mirza's effigy was burned amid protests in her home state of Andhra Pradesh.

She was quoted as saying that whether before or after marriage, the most important matter was that sex was safe.

This is not the first controversy Mirza has been involved in since her rise to fame as India's leading woman tennis player.

Security for her at a recent tournament in Calcutta was stepped up after rumours that a radical Islamic group had threatened to stop her playing in the tournament unless she changed her on-court dress.

Personal choice

In a statement issued in Hyderabad, Mirza said pre-marital sex could not be justified.

She said she was upset that her image had been maligned by misquotes and that such a non-issue had become a controversy.

After the leadership summit, two student groups demonstrated in Andhra Pradesh.

Some activists burned Mirza's effigy and shouted "Sania Mirza down down".

Kiran Kumar, organising secretary of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh in Vijaywada, said young stars like Sania Mirza should behave with dignity in inspiring youngsters.

At the Delhi summit, Mirza also defended her dress saying that even if she wore a four-inch skirt, it was her decision and others should not have anything to do with it.

Some groups have protested over her dress, calling it "un-Islamic".

The latest controversy comes on the heels of a case involving Khushboo, a film actress in neighbouring Tamil Nadu state, who has been met with angry protests and legal action over her alleged comments on pre-marital sex.

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