I admit it should not have taken this long but as we say in Russian: Лу́чше по́здно, чем никогда́. Or better late than never.
My friends in India, here I, Maria Sharapova, daughter of Yuri and Elena Sharapova, tender an unconditional apology to 1.2 billion of you (I suspect million but my manager insists it’s billion) for previously not knowing who the Great Sachin Tendulkar is.
While I admit that you’ve shown great restraint in confining your just anger to innocuous photoshopping and innocent defacing of my Facebook wall using words that have greatly enriched my vocabulary, I beg your sympathy and draw your attention to my inglorious upbringing where cricket meant a buzzing insect and nothing else.
As some of you probably know, I was born in Russia, the country languishing in obscurity until your Mithun Chakraborty arrived there to shoot a couple of films that thrust my shy nation firmly under the spotlight.
Soon after my birth, my parents moved to the United States, a country history will eventually remember for organising random spelling bee contests monopolized by kids from your great country.
Despite the strong India links, in the country of my origin as well as the country I’ve adopted, cricket is as popular as Mike Tyson was with Evander Holyfield’s family immediately after that 1997 bout in Las Vegas.
While it’s a lame excuse for my mind-numbing ignorance, I beg you kindly consider the circumstances in which I confessed not knowing who the cricketing God was.
I completely agree when many of you question if tennis can be considered a sport, let alone a global sport, and wonder what’s the big deal about this Micky Mouse tournament. Looking back, I realise I got carried away after winning a match at Wimbledon and was not in full control of my faculties when I was asked the question about Tendulkar.
Otherwise, I could have mumbled out something vague yet face-saving. Like “That’s a ridiculous question. Of course I know him! Who doesn’t? He is a living legend, a giant beyond his physical stature and an inspiration not only to our generation but to the entire world. It’s people like him who restores our faith in humanity. In fact when I was trailing in the match, his presence inspired my comeback.”
I am ashamed of the way I have conducted myself and to prove that I’m genuinely sorry, I have been reading everything I could about Tendulkar, even if meant skipping training and fighting with the coach.
Now I know his cricket stats by heart; I know the punch lines of the each of his 2086 TV commercials including “Visa power, go get it”; and I know the breed of each of his pet dogs.
Naturally my preparation for US Open next month is the best I ever had. I may not cross the first round hurdle at Flushing Meadows but if media ask me about Tendulkar, I bet I will surprise you all.
(A work of fiction, if you still don't get it)