Indian tennis ace Leander Paes has shown the significance of acquiring new skills over the years by constantly reinventing and refreshing his game.
So no surprise that the 46-year-old stressed the importance of continuing to keep learning and remain both physically and mentally fit during the lockdown.
"It is important to focus on learning new skills during the lockdown," Leander Paes said during a webinar for coaches, jointly organised by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) and the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
The seven-time Olympian has enjoyed a long and fruitful career that’s seen him win 18 doubles grand slams in a career spanning three decades.
The art of reinvention
A master in the art of reinventing himself, Leander Paes feels ‘blessed’ to have known and shared friendships with some of the best exemplars for longevity in sports.
“With someone like Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi in my sport alone,” Leander Paes told the Indian Express. “In other sports, you look at Sachin Tendulkar, Bhaichung Bhutia, Vishy (Viswanathan) Anand to name a few, they have had very long careers.
“I have tried to learn from my peers and friends about that extra one per cent of diet, fitness, mental happiness, recovery and how to keep reinventing myself,” he said.
Now a little over a month away from his birthday, Leander Paes finds himself in the familiar position of having to reinvent his game again amid the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.
While explaining how he has reinvented himself in the past, Leander Paes recalled being tired at the age of 33 after years on the road and hours of training in the gym and on the tennis court.
“I came back to my team. To my father and my fitness coach and my dietician and my mental trainer,” he shared.
“I reinvented my training system and then when I was 43, I had to reinvent again. Now one month shy of my 47th birthday, I have had to reinvent again with this lockdown period.
“So I think that it’s very important as a student of my craft or as a student of life to keep learning new things. I think that is one aspect of all the great champions in the world that I know. I have seen that they all reinvent themselves in all aspects of their lives,” Leander Paes stressed.
Enhancing his culinary skills
Whether it’s tennis or life in general, Leander Paes’ appetite to continue learning has the same fervour. A passionate cook, he has also been busy brushing up his culinary skills while at home.
“I specialise in pasta and salad. Breakfast is one of my favourite meals. I can eat breakfast morning, noon or night. And I love making different kinds of breakfast. When it comes to serious cooking, those are the things I am really passionate about,” he enthused.
“When I finish with my tennis, I want to learn serious cooking. Take cooking classes. They have a Michelin chef cooking class. French patisserie is very interesting,” he elaborated.
His cooking lessons though will have to be put on the back burner since the Tokyo Games postponement has prompted the Atlanta 1996 bronze medallist into reevaluating playing for another year in a bid for what would be an eighth Olympics appearance.