How PV Sindhu is changing India's perception of women

The Hyderabad native is her country's only female Olympic silver medallist and India's first badminton world champion.

By Subhayan Dutta

World badminton champion PV Sindhu is playing a big role in redefining India’s perception of women.

With fellow shuttler Saina Nehwal, boxer Mary Kom and wrestler Sakshi Malik, all of whom have won medals at recent Olympic Games, Sindhu has helped inspire and empower women in her nation.

Sindhu's success story is one founded on self-belief and perseverance and, with it, she has become a role model for Indian women.

The Rio 2016 silver medallist recalled to CNN, "Before I even started (playing badminton) it was more like, 'Girls shouldn't come out and play sport - you need to stay at home.

"But in a few years, it has changed... it's no more that the girl should stay at home.

"No one should think that men are strong, and women have nothing. Women are strong enough to do whatever they want." - PV Sindhu to CNN

PV Sindhu is the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal.

Breaking out of ‘silver’ label

For so long, the big titles eluded the Hyderabad shuttler with Sindhu having a string of runner-up finishes - including being a beaten finalist at the 2017 and 2018 World Championships - which led her to be dubbed “Silver Sindhu”.

Between those two Worlds, the top-ranked Indian shuttler only won the 2017 Korea Open from five finals and three semi-final appearances.

Sindhu said, "People started asking me, 'What's happening? You come to the finals - It's finals phobia."

But it was a case of third time lucky for Sindhu who became the first Indian player in history to win a world badminton title in 2019.

"When I was low, when I kept losing matches it helped me where it made me think that it's okay to lose. You have another way. You have a next time,” Sindhu said.

"I thought I would just answer them with my racket," she added.

PV Sindhu had her best performance at the All England Open in 2018 (Photo: PV Sindhu/Twitter)

Olympic gold in sight

The 25-year-old is one of India’s biggest medal hopes at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo with Sindhu lying seventh in the ‘Race to Tokyo’ qualification rankings list.

Since losing the 2016 gold medal match to Carolina Marin, Sindhu has scored two wins over Spain's former world number one.

But now Olympic gold is her big goal.

"(Winning the silver medal) was just another step… I'm happy with what I've done but I want to achieve even more,” she said.

"I want to see myself at World No.1. I want to get Olympic gold -- It's not going to be easy, but I would say it's not tough too.

"I have that capacity, passion and grit. So why can't I do it? I'm sure that if I pushed that one level then definitely, I'm going to be there someday."