New Delhi: Tennis sensation Sania Mirza's decision not to play in India came in for sharp criticism from stalwart Leander Paes, who said nobody was greater than the game and playing in front of own fans was the greatest joy for any athlete.
Paes, the seven time Grand Slam winner and the current Davis Cup captain, said controversies were part and parcel of a sportsperson's life and one has to learn to tackle it.
"Look at every celebrity, who does not have controversies? We all have adversities. Every celebrity have adversities in their lives. It’s how dignified and honest you are. It's about how you project yourself and how you handle them," Paes said, reacting to Sania's decision to pull out of the Bangalore Open to avoid being dragged into fresh controversies.
Paes, who has an estranged relationship with Mahesh Bhupathi, whose Globosport company manages Sania's career, said that no individual was greater than the game.
"I do not want to get into it. I am not bothered but the greatest joy for any athlete is to play for the country and in the country and play for the people. Nobody is greater than the game. That's something Sania has to be careful about," Paes told reporters after the practice session of the Davis Cup team at the National Sports Club of India here.