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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2008, 11:36 GMT
Sania Mirza 'considered quitting'
Sania Mirza in the controversial photo
Mirza denies showing disrespect to the flag
Indian tennis star Sania Mirza says she considered quitting the sport after being accused of showing disrespect to the national flag.

On New Year's day, Mirza was pictured sitting with her feet resting on a table next to an Indian flag.

The 21-year-old, who has advanced to the second round of the Australian Open, said the pose was accidental.

Mirza faces a possible prosecution under the Prevention of Insult to the National Honour Act.

She has faced criticism before, including being accused of wearing "indecent" sporting attire.

"I think a lot of thoughts went through my head in the last couple of weeks," Mirza said.

"One of the thoughts was that [to quit the sport], but I wouldn't say it was serious enough that I am going to quit right now."

'No disrespect'

After newspapers published the controversial photograph taken during a match at the Hopman Cup in Australia, a private citizen filed a complaint with a court in the central Indian city of Bhopal.

The maximum punishment for an offence under the Prevention of Insult to the National Honour Act is three years in jail and a fine.

Mirza denies showing disrespect to the flag.

"I just know that I would not do anything to disrespect my country.

"I love my country, I wouldn't be playing Hopman Cup otherwise, but besides that I am not allowed to comment," she said.

Mirza is not new to controversy. Last month, police in her hometown of Hyderabad [in southern India] registered a case against her for trespass for filming an advertisement in a mosque.

She has also been criticised for her sporting clothes with her critics describing it as "indecent" and "corrupting'.

In an earlier interview with the BBC, Mirza said, "I try not to read newspapers or watch sport news on television" because of the effect such controversies have on her.

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