Leander Paes hints he may retire in late 2017, ending a 26-year career
The 43-year old was at his emotional best during a Chennai Open press conference.
When somebody thinks about tennis in India, Leander Paes is the first name that comes to mind. Having played the sport professionally for 26 years, the 43-year old has achieved a career slam in both doubles and mixed doubles. He is also one of the few distinguished players to pull off the doubles/mixed doubles double by winning both events at the 1999 Wimbledon tournament.
During a media interaction prior to the Chennai Open, an emotional Leander dropped his biggest hint at retirement yet, stating that these could be his last few months in the sport.
He said, “At this particular age (43), I play for the love of the sport, my motivation doesn’t necessarily lie in winning titles but to be a part of something that I’ve done all my life. But, yes the time is nearing when the curtain will finally fall down.
“You guys have supported me on a daily basis in this quest, especially the last 18 years, where I really started giving it my 110 percent. I won’t lie most athletes are not able to compete at this age and I am blessed, right now I have members in my team, who will help me do better in the last few months of my tennis career and the months after that.”
On being asked by Sportskeeda, whether he would expand on the statement, he added, “Only time will tell.”
After winning 18 Grand Slam titles, Leander stated that he is content with what he has achieved in his career so far. His goal now is to create a more holistic environment for tennis to thrive in India.
He added, “Now for me, the major focus will be on giving back to Indian tennis, I would like to create someone who would eventually win a grand slam as well. So, yes I will not rule out coaching as an option either. This is my goal right now, I don't want to go for an eight straight Olympic edition, or win another grand slam or a ninth Chennai Open. I want to create a winner now.”
By winning the 2010 Mixed Doubles Wimbledon title, he also became only the second ever players to win Grand Slams in three different decades. Recently, Mahesh Bhupathi was announced as the non-playing captain of the Indian Davis Cup squad. Speaking about this, Leander added, “I personally feel for someone to become the Davis Cup Captain, that person needs the credentials, and Mahesh has all the credentials to do it. Now only the next 18 months will highlight what’s going to happen.”
Leander is currently the highest capped Indian players with 54 ties under his belt.