The 1996 Atlanta Games bronze medalist with 18 Grand Slam titles to wind up his three decade long career
An era will come to an end after Leander Paes leaves the tennis court once and for all following the 2020 calendar year. The 46-year-old who turned pro in 1991 has had a career marked with numerous medals and injury setbacks and given that he came close to calling it a day on various occasions, this call is landmark closure.
The Kolkata-born player announced on Christmas Day that his swansong would not include anything beyond some marquee tournaments of 2020, which include the Olympic Games in July.
"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. It is all of you who have inspired me to become me and I want to take this year to say 'thank you' to you," Paes expressed in his Twitter post.
"Year 2020 is going to be an emotional one and I look forward to seeing all of you out there roaring with me… It's been an honour being your LionHeart," Leander wrote under the hashtag #OneLastRoar.
For a whole generation of tennis fans in India, the legend of Leander Paes has only grown with him going out and grinding it on the courts. Paes began to turn heads with his wins at the junior Wimbledon and junior US Open before turning professional in 1991, and made his arrival known with a bronze medal win at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where he defeated Fernando Meligeni.
His achievements saw him getting awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 1996 before he went on a winning spree with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi. Paes has won 18 Grand Slam titles, eight of which came in the men's doubles and the other ten in mixed doubles categories.
His last Grand Slam title came in the 2015 US Open where he had partnered Martina Hingis in the mixed doubles event.
After India’s Davis Cup tie with neighbours Pakistan had to be rescheduled twice in search of a neutral venue and many top-ranked Indian players pulled out, Paes was called upon to lead a young side.
Partnering debutant Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan in Nur Sultan (Kazakhstan), Paes further extended his record by racking up the most number of doubles victories in a competition. Prior to that, Paes and Bhupathi had enjoyed a record winning streak in the doubles event with 24 on the trot.