14. Sept. 2010
Bopanna and Quresh, an Indian Hindu and a Pakistani Muslim, spread their message of peace on one of the most famous courts of the world. The unequal double is on a mission with their own slogan even displayed on their track suits “Stop War, Start Tennis. Not only did they earn the respect of the athletic but of the entire world. The “diplomatic double” as they are often referred to managed to reunite two estranged nations at least on the tennis court (with both, the Indian and the Pakistani ambassador enjoying the match together in the same row), which gives hope for a peaceful future of both nations outside of a stadium.
„Stop War, start Tennis!“
Who would have thought that the Louis-Armstrong Stadium in Flushing Meadows would once be the setting of a historical moment of peace and union rather than simply a place of great athletic performances? Aisam Al Qureshi from Pakistan and Indian native Rohan Bopanna have been the most extraordinary and even more importantly the most unlikely tennis double at this year’s US Open. Both come from two neighbouring states that are rather known for their hostile attitude towards each other than their common interest in sports. Against all odds both men have joined forces not only to achieve athletic attention on the tennis court/ to win the title but also to literally “serve for peace”. To date, 3 wars have been fought over Kashmere between Pakistan and India. However, in sports both countries seem to be of one opinion. For the longest time Qureshi and Bopanna were rather known for their unusual alliance than their athletic records – surprisingly, during the US Open, their game as well as their political symbolism increased enormously. Their mission is as simple as that: stop war, start tennis, share your interests and enjoy it peacefully together. In this context it is even more inspiring that the audience was able to watch the Pakistani as well as the Indian ambassador enjoying the match at the double semi-finals peacefully sitting right next to each other. “We want to overcome trenches and boundaries and want to bring down the literal walls in people’s heads!” says Qureshi. Eventually, their athletic success could help to finally decrease the political gap between both nations - and what better drive for motivation could an athlete have than to spread the message of peace and help to end a conflict that has smouldered for so many years.