With two small words, Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has managed to anger “god of cricket” Sachin Tendulkar‘s army of fans.
When asked if she knows who Tendulkar is during a press conference at Wimbledon late last month, the five-time Grand Slam winner admitted, “I don't.” Tendulkar had watched the tennis tournament from the Royal Box with other famous athletes like David Beckham.
Angry Tendulkar fans have flooded Facebook and Twitter, and the hashtag #WhoisMariaSharapova has been trending since the news went public. Her Facebook page was at one point receiving approximately 50 comments per minute.
Who is Maria Sharapova? This is Sachin Tendulkar who respects his game. Learn from him. pic.twitter.com/3sCZ8Ir8qN
— Sir Ravindra Jadeja (@SirJadeja) July 2, 2014
Cricket legend Tendulkar retired after a 24-year career in November 2013. He was ranked by the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack as the second greatest test batsman ever after Sir Don Bradman. The cricketer was conferred India’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, for his lifetime contribution to cricket along with many other Indian and international awards.
Disgruntled Tendulkar supporters have labelled Sharapova a “cricket atheist” for the gap in her knowledge. Some have created memes, like this one of tennis great Roger Federer listening to Tendulkar humbly with crossed arms:
Dear Sharapova learn something from your tennis mate BTW who is Maria Sharapova pic.twitter.com/c252wm3Ehr
— Johar VMR (@SRTrendulkar) July 3, 2014
Others have defended Sharapova, saying her ignorance is normal being from a non-cricket playing country.
In the comments section of the above YouTube video, uploaded by Worlds Best News, Manish Bhatia commented:
I don't see what's the big deal. She didn't disrespect Tendulkar in any way. She did say they met before, but didn't know who he was. We have to realise that cricket isn't played at all in Russia (where she was born) and the US (where she currently lives).. Though she's guilty of having poor GK [general knowledge].
We are really a hypocritical bunch of people. We criticise her for not knowing Sachin yet almost none of us know the names of any Hockey player, even though it's our national game.
Facebook news page The Logical Indian encourage fans to stop attacking Sharapova:
The Logical Indian denounces the act of Indians trolling Maria Sharapova‘s Facebook profile, inundating it with profanity. Think people, think! Would Sachin ever want us to indulge in profanity on his behalf? Are we not indulging in behaviour that he would find extremely embarassing?
While Cricket is a popular sport in a handful of commonwealth countries, we must realise that it is unknown to most other countries.
There is no doubt that Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest cricketer to have walked the earth, and a living sporting legend. But why should a tennis player from Russia – a non cricket playing country be expected to know about Sachin?
So far, neither Sharapova nor Sachin have reacted on their Twitter pages respectively or spoken to the press about the matter.