April 12, 2010 / 11:42 AM / 10 years ago

Sania Mirza weds Shoaib Malik after divorce row

HYDERABAD (Reuters Life!) - Tennis star Sania Mirza married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik on Monday, after a romance that saw the groom forced to get a messy divorce from his first wife days before the wedding.

Sania Mirza (R) and Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik smile during their wedding ceremony at a hotel in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad April 12, 2010. Sania married Shoaib on Monday, after a romance that saw the groom forced to get a messy divorce from his first wife days before the wedding. REUTERS/Handout

The two wed at a plush hotel in Hyderabad, hometown of Mirza, the poster girl of Indian tennis on whom ride millions of rupees in brand endorsements.

Mirza, 23, wore a red embroidered sari from her mother’s wedding trousseau 25 years ago. The groom, accompanied by relatives from Pakistan, wore a long black tunic.

“The nikah (marriage) has been completed, it has just got over. Please pray for the couple,” Rucha Naik, a spokeswoman for Mirza, told reporters waiting outside the hotel.

Marriages between people from India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed rivals who have fought three wars, are rare. But this wedding transfixed the two nations as a dramatic revelation came to the fore days after Mirza and Malik said they were marrying.

A Hyderabad woman named Ayesha Siddiqui complained to police, saying she and Malik married in 2002 and that he could not marry again without divorcing her.

Police seized Malik’s passport and questioned him after the former Pakistani captain denied knowing the woman.

The two sides repeatedly appeared before TV cameras to refute each other’s claims as Muslim clerics weighed into the row.

But last week Malik signed divorce papers in an implicit acknowledgement of his marriage to Siddiqui, who then withdrew her complaint.

Mirza is the first Indian to win a WTA tour event in 2005. Despite initial promise, she now ranks at 89, hamstrung mostly by injuries.

Malik, 28, is fighting a year-long ban by the Pakistan Cricket Board for poor performance and indiscipline.

The couple will settle in Dubai.

Writing by Bappa Majumdar and Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Jerry Norton

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