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Pakistan's Malik weds India's tennis star Mirza

By Harmeet Shah Singh
Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik pictured ahead of their wedding.
Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik pictured ahead of their wedding.
  • Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza married in Indian city of Hyderabad
  • Marriage is rare union across divides separating Pakistan and India
  • Wedding dogged by controversy over allegations of bigamy against Malik
  • Pakistan
  • India
  • Cricket
  • Tennis

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- Indian tennis player Sania Mirza and Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik exchanged wedding vows Monday in a controversy hit celebrity union across the deep political and religious rivalries that divide their two countries.

Mirza's spokeswoman Rucha Nayak told reporters that the pair, two of the region's biggest sporting names, signed an Islamic matrimonial agreement in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.

Television footage showed the 23-year-old bride wearing a traditional red saree as she stepped into a car for the wedding venue.

The nuptials follow a stormy courtship for the pair, with anger among hardline Hindus over Mirza's relationship with a Pakistani man matched by a scandal over bigamy allegations against Malik.

Last week, Malik divorced his first wife, Ayesha Siddiqui, an Indian woman whom he had earlier accused of tricking him into what he described as an invalid wedding.

Siddiqui claims Malik married her by telephone eight years ago, but Malik maintains he was deceived and the marriage was invalid, saying the agreement was based on photos sent to him which he insists were not of Siddiqui.

Asked earlier this month if she was unnerved by the controversy surrounding her wedding, Mirza said, "Of course I am upset. But we are happy that we are together."

Mirza divides opinion in India, drawing criticism from strict Muslim groups for her short tennis skirts and jewelry, while gaining praise and fans for her achievements on the court.

She became the first Indian to win a WTA Tour title in 2005, she reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open later that year and won the Australian Open mixed doubles in 2009.

The announcement of the marriage between the two Muslims came two months after Mirza broke off her engagement to a childhood friend, saying in a statement: "I have been in the constant glare for too long and would appreciate the privacy at this very personal moment in my life."

Malik, 28, a former Pakistani cricket captain, is currently serving a year-long ban from the Pakistan Cricket Board due to indiscipline on a tour of Australia.