Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik and Indian tennis player Sania Mirza, two of South Asia's best known sports personalities, are to marry in April, the players said on Tuesday.On Tuesday night, Sania Mirza appeared before the media and officially announced the date of her marriage - April 11. The reception will be held on April 15.
Sania said she and Shoaib will settle in Dubai after marriage. Sania revealed that she met Shoaib for the first time 6-7 years ago.However, the tennis star made it clear that she play for India while Shoaib will play for Pakistan."I will decide on career course after playing in Olympics in 2012," said Sania."I'm very happy, we're all very happy," Sania told reporters in her home town of Hyderabad."It's still a few days away or a few weeks away."
Malik, an all-rounder who captained Pakistan between 2007and 2009, told television channels in Pakistan: "We both are also happy and it's happening next month".The couple will settle in Dubai after their marriage, Sania said.
To a question, Sania said she would support both India and her husband in a match between two rivals.
The 23-year-old was the first Indian to win a WTA tour event in 2005 and reached her highest world ranking of 27 two years ago although she has since slipped to 92nd.
Malik, 28, has been fighting a 12-month ban by the Pakistan Cricket Board for poor performance and indiscipline.
Earlier, in Delhi on Tuesday, Sania and her mother Nasima Mirza went to the Pakistan High Commission and collected their visa to visit Lahore.
Sania Mirza flew into Delhi on a brief visit to get her visa to Pakistan where a post-wedding reception is scheduled next month. Accompanied by her mother, the 23-year-old Mirza, went to the Pakistan High Commission and completed the formalities.
"We have got the visa. We are happy. Now that we have got the visa, we will be travelling to Pakistan", her mother Nasima Mirza told reporters. Sania herself declined to comment on the impending marriage. "I am not answering any questions", she told reporters.
Nasima said the family was very happy with Sania's decision. "We are very happy about her decision. We are all with her and Inshallah we wish all the best to her," she said.
Her mother refused to talk about Sania's previous engagement with childhood friend Sohrab Mirza. "I don't want to comment on what all happened in the past and we should all look ahead," she said.
A statement by Sania's father Imran Mirza on Monday had said Sania and Malik will be based in Dubai, where the cricketer is a resident. "This is a unique case where the husband and wife will represent their respective countries in sport," Imran said in the statement.
"My wedding Inshallah is going to be the biggest day of my life. I have been in the constant glare for too long and would appreciate privacy at this very personal moment in my life," Sania was quoted as having said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Shoaib Malik on Tuesday said both he and Sania were happy. "It is (marriage) happening next month somewhere and I think parents will decide the dates. It's entirely upto our parents wherever they will decide," Shoaib said.
Shoaib said both the families were happy with the development, as was Sania. "Well Inshallah, we are getting married soon and our families are very happy. We both are also happy," he told ARY TV channel.
The report of both getting married next month came as a surprise in India after a Pakistani channel broke the news yesterday.
Confirming the news, Malik had yesterday wrote in his Twitter page, "Thanks for all your support. And the news of me marrying to Sania is true. Inshallah will get married in April."
Sania was also quoted in a statement as having said, "My wedding inshallah is going to be the biggest day of my life. I have been in the constant glare for too long and would appreciate privacy at this very personal moment in my life." Sania today flew into New Delhi to get her visa to Pakistan where a post-wedding reception is scheduled.
In Islamabad, six members of Malik's family applied for visas to travel to India. The applications were submitted by Shoaib's uncle Zafar Malik.
The two met in Australia in January. Sania broke her engagement with Sohrab Mirza later that month although she cited incompatibility as the reason for the break up. PTI
A spokesperson of Pakistan's Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that Pakistan had no objection to giving Pak nationality to Sania Mirza provided she resided in Pakistan for a minimum period of five years.