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Rediff.com  » Sports » Smile on her lips, Pinki sets off for Wimbledon

Smile on her lips, Pinki sets off for Wimbledon

July 04, 2013 08:48 IST

'I have never heard of Wimbledon'

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The British High Commissioner Sir James Bevan feels her cute smile will light up the hallowed Centre Court at SW 19 as well as bring luck to the nation's big hope Andy Murray, but 11-year-old Pinki Sonkar is blissfully oblivious of any such expectations.

Pinki, who underwent a successful cleft repair surgery, which was later captured in the Oscar-winning documentary 'Smile Pinki', has been bestowed with the honour of flipping the coin before the start of the men's singles final at Wimbledon.

"I have never heard of Wimbledon but I know I'm going there to toss a coin," a beaming Pinki said during a send-off organised by the British High Commission in association with charity organization 'Smile Train' in New Delhi.


Image: Pinki Sonkar with her father Rajendra
Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters

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'Pinki's smile will light up London'

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But talk to her about the giant London Eye, the grin widens. "We have a whirling ride in our school, small one."

"I like English, Hindi, Mathematics, drawing and sports also. But, I want to become a teacher when I grow up," said Pinki, who wore a lovely red and black polka dotted dress.

"She is going to see London and I cannot think of a better place right now than the Centre Court at Wimbledon where she'll flip the coin. All people smile in the same language and I think Pinki's smile will light up London," the High Commissioner said on the occasion.

"But, more than that I think Pinki's smile will also bring luck for us. As in the last sixty-odd years no Englishman has won the professional gentlemen's singles title but this year Pinki might just bring luck for us," Bevan added.


Image: Pinki Sonkar with her father Rajendra
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

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'She'll enjoy and learn about England and its sporting culture'

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Speaking further on the life and journey of Pinki, the Commissioner hailed her as "the ambassador for cleft lip patients around the world".

"It's a privilege to help a charity that endeavours to put smile back on people's faces. And, as Pinki goes out from here, she'll go out as the ambassador for all the cleft lip patients around the world apart from seeing and learning about a new country. She likes English language and sports and she'll enjoy and learn about England and its sporting culture through Wimbledon and through glimpses of the Olympics we had hosted last year," he added.

The 11-year-old who hails from a small village in Mirzapur district in Uttar Pradesh was one of the patients of Smile Train, the world's largest cleft lip and palate non-profit organisation headquartered in New York, which has been chosen this year as the charity partner for Wimbledon.


Image: Pinki Sonkar with her mother Shimla Devi
Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters

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'Her face truly represents the community of cleft lip patients'

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Plastic surgeon Subodh Kumar Singh who performed the surgery on her and shared the Oscar glory with her on the red carpet in Hollywood and is also accompanying her alongwith her father, says the transformation in Pinki is "extraordinary".

"The little girl now proudly talks in front of the camera who, earlier used to hide behind her mother's saree before the surgery fearing ridicule by society.

"And, I also think her face truly represents the community of cleft lip patients, from low self-esteem and shyness to smart, confident and beautiful faces with beautiful smiles that we Smile Train wants to put on those faces," Singh said.

"As per the itinerary, Pinki will also visit the Thornton's chocolate factory in Derbyshire. And, on July 7 before the toss, she'll be taken on a Wimbledon's history tour, the old galleries and the museum located there before moving out for sightseeing the next day to Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, among others," Mamta Carroll, Director, Smile Train, stated.


Image: Pinki Sonkar with doctor Subodh Kumar Singh
Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters

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