New Delhi, Feb 6: Even though though Sania Mirza has decided to keep off tournaments in India, she will retain her strong brand value.
Sania has pulled out from next month's Bangalore Open, rattled by a court case last month which alleged she showed disrespect to her national flag, an offence punishable by jail." Sania has become a brand not because she won a few matches in India or because of her ranking, "Santosh Desai, CEO of India's Future Brand, told a prominent English daily.
" It is because of her success worldwide, and if she continues to play well and make us buy into the idea of her international success, sponsors will continue to support her."
Mirza's popularity has rivalled cricketers as she became the first Indian woman to win a tour event in 2005 and the articulate player enjoys many commercial endorsements. She is ranked 29th in the world.
The player has also had to pay a price for her popularity, however, and has been at the centre of a series of controversies.
She faced an edict from a Muslim group for playing in normal tennis attire soon after her rise to prominence.
In December, she apologised to Mosque officials in hometown Hyderabad following a police complaint for trespass after she shot an advertisement film in its premises.
Mirza said last month she even contemplated quitting tennis because of the issues.
Her boycott decision has won support from doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi, her mixed doubles partner and manager, but Davis Cup captain Leander Paes has urged Mirza to handle such issues better.