What's the story?
After finishing runners-up in his last tournament at home, Bengaluru Open 2020, veteran Indian tennis player Leander Paes looked back on the golden time of his career, specifically his partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi. The Indian pair won three Grand Slams and Paes revealed that he built a bond with Bhupathi.
The Kolkata-based tennis star tried his luck in the singles division first but did not achieve much success. Later, he switched to the doubles category where he formed an incredible partnership with compatriot Bhupathi. The duo of Paes and Bhupathi made history by winning the French Open and Wimbledon in 1999. They finished runners-up in the Australian Open and US Open that year. The pair also won the French Open in 2001.
Over the years, Paes united forces with a lot of male and female players but feels that he had his best time with Bhupathi.
The heart of the matter
Talking to PTI on Sunday (16th February), Paes recalled his partnership with Bhupathi and said:
“I had a vision that two Indian boys could conquer the world in tennis and win Wimbledon. Until then, no Indian had won a senior title at Wimbledon. When we went on to get to all four Grand Slam finals in 1999 we won the French, we won Wimbledon. Mahesh and myself went on to do some great things.”
He cherished the golden memories by disclosing how the duo spent time in the locker room. Paes continued:
“We would listen to Kishore Kumar in the locker room and watch movies together. I think I’ve watched Sholay about 105 times, at least 10 or 15 times with him. The memories I share with that young boy is pretty special.”
Although he has achieved a lot of success on the tennis court, he felt that the one thing he could have done better was to prepare two young Indian boys to represent the nation in the world of tennis. He further spoke about his bond with Bhupathi and concluded with the following statement,
“If I had the vision back then, to make sure that we continue to watch movies together. Alone. To make sure we continue to go to dinner together. Alone. To make sure that once the team did their work, that they could go on and leave us alone. If Mahesh and myself are left alone, even today, we get on like a house on fire."
Paes has announced that the year 2020 will be his last in the world of professional tennis. It will be intriguing to see how he performs in his final tennis season.