Kiran Bedi, one of the most celebrated and widely known figures of India is earned her popularity as the first woman officer in the Indian Police Service. A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), she is also the current Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. But what many don’t know is that she was also a champion sportswoman.
Long before she was an IPS officer, Bedi had made her mark in Indian tennis. Born as Kiran Peshawaria, her name would appear frequently on the national dailies of the 1960s and 70s. Drawing inspiration from her father Prakash Peshawaria, Bedi picked up the tennis racquet at the age of nine. As a teenage tennis player, she cut her hair short as they interfered with her game. In 1964, she played her first tournament outside Amritsar, participating in the national junior lawn tennis championship at Delhi Gymkhana. She lost in early rounds. However, she went on to win the trophy two years later, in 1966 and again in 1972.
In 1968, she paired up with her younger sister Reeta, to win the All India Intervarsity Tennis Title, they later won it three years in a row. She won the All-India Hard Court Tennis Championship in 1974, the All India Interstate Women’s Lawn Tennis Championship in 1975. However, her biggest achievement in tennis came in 1976, when she lifted National Women’s Lawn Tennis Championship title.
Bedi went on to represent India twice against Sri Lanka, winning the Lionel Fonseka Memorial Trophy. At the first National Sports Festival for Women in 1976, she bagged three gold and two silver medals, for singles and doubles, which she played with her sister, Anu Peshawaria.
Bedi’s two sisters were also excellent players. Anu won the national championship thrice and represented India at the Asian Games and Wimbledon.