When you’re talking about endurance in the world o Tennis, the one veteran that we Indians always recognize is none other than the veteran Leander Paes. Still going strong at the age of 46, the Kolkata boy has been the pinnacle of consistency, not having the word ‘retire’ in his dictionary. However, that just may be the case till the net year, as the legendary doubles star has stated that he will retire from the sport in 2020.
Eight times doubles and ten times mixed doubles Grand Slam title winner, Paes has made the country proud at the highest stage. Partnering with the likes of Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis, Lukáš Dlouhý and of course his compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi, with whom he won his first French Open and Wimbledon in 1999. With achieving the career Grand Slam at the 2012 Australia Open, Paes has bagged a monumental 55 doubles titles in his career.
However, age had takes its toll on the former world no. 1, as Paes had started to decline to the 70s back in 2018, to a slip to to no. 105 at present.
On Christmas Eve this year, the 1996 Summer Olympics bronze medalist posted on Twitter about his plans to retire in 2020.
“I want to announce 2020 as my farewell year as a pro tennis player,” Paes wrote: “I am looking forward to the 2020 tennis calendar where I will be playing a few select tournaments, travelling with my team and celebrating with all my friends and fans around the world.”
Born to Indian hockey legend Vece Paes and former basketball team captain Jennifer Paes, Leander thanked his parents: “Firstly, I want to thank my parents for their genetics, guidance, discipline, environment they created and unconditional love they have always shown me throughout my life. I would not be who I am without your unstinting support and belief in me.”
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award and Arjuna Award winner, Paes was honoured with the Padma Shri award 2001, and the Padma Bhushan 2014.
Paes also thanked Jacquie and Maria, his elder sisters, and his daughter Aiyana.
Along with Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, Paes set a record at the 2019 Davis Cup last month at Kazakhstan with his record breaking 44th victory against Pakistani youngsters Mohammed Shoaib and Hufaiza Abdul Rehman.
Finally, he stated his wish for the Indian tennis fandom to use the hashtag ‘#OneLastRoar’ and post their favourite ‘Leander memories’.
Most number of #DavisCup wins:
🇮🇳 Leander Paes – 44
🇮🇹 Nicola Pietrangeli – 42
🇧🇾 Max Mirnyi – 36 pic.twitter.com/LkRYlgv030
— The Bridge (@TheBridge_IN) December 2, 2019