Whether he’s still playing or not, Leander Paes’ romance with tennis will continue even post his eventual retirement.
The seven-time Olympian has expressed his desire to keep playing the sport in some capacity once he calls it a day on his professional career, which has spanned three decades.
“I will always be playing tennis. I will be playing tennis in some shape or form,” the 46-year-old recently told the Indian Express.
“Whether it is seniors or exhibition, whether it is world team tennis or league, whether it is playing for fun with my family. I will always have tennis in my day-to-day lifestyle.
“In terms of professional tennis, that is something we have to evaluate at the end of the year,” Leander Paes clarified.
A bronze medal winner at the Atlanta 1996 Games, Leander Paes had announced that the ongoing season would be his last in the professional tennis circuit as he eyed one last Olympic appearance in Tokyo.
However, the postponement of the Tokyo Games to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that his plans of a last hurrah in Japan this year were thrown up in the air.
“So, with the Olympics postponed to 2021, I think post the lockdown or towards the end of the year, as things start opening up for tennis,” Leander Paes said. “We (my team and I) will only reevaluate then as to whether I should continue next year or not.”
Leander’s father Vece Paes, who won bronze in hockey at the 1972 Olympic Games, and his former doubles partner Mahesh Bhupati had earlier touched on how the seven-time Olympian could extend his career beyond 2020 prior to the Tokyo postponement.
With the Tokyo Games now taking place next July, many others will be hoping that Leander Paes pays heed to the advice of his father and former doubles partner.
Quality family time during lockdown
Currently, on his longest stretch at home due to the coronavirus-enforced nationwide lockdown, Leander Paes has been making most of his downtime with family.
“It’s very nice that I get to spend time with my family, get to enjoy quality time with them. I have never spent this much time at home in one long stretch as I have always been working for the last 20 years,” he said.
“Forty weeks a year travelling and touring non-stop. So, I am really taking advantage of this time, spending time with my family,” he explained.
An 18-time doubles grand slam champion, Paes is the most decorated Indian tennis player who ended the nation’s 44-year-wait for an individual Olympic medal at the Atlanta Games.