Forty shades of Leander Paes
At the age of 40, Leander Paes is not only the oldest man to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era, he’s undoubtedly the greatest tennis doubles player that has ever walked into a sporting arena. Paes, who won his 14th Grand Slam after clinching the US Open this year in men’s doubles, with partner Radek Stepanek, is already a living legend, a hallmark of sporting genius that has fused raw talent with extreme hard work, only to see it paying off even now. The former doubles number one has won eight men’s doubles and six mixed doubles Grand Slam titles in a career spanning 22 years, and along with Martina Navratilova, one his best friends, on and off court, is a splendid example of how age is not a factor when it comes to achievements on the ground. Paes is also a survivor, given the sheer volume of controversies that has erupted because of him, leaving a lasting impact on Indian tennis, especially his bitter and public spat with former partner and compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi. In fact, Paes has beaten health problems, stress ensuing from a suspected tumour, and a bunch of other adversity, of which the cut throat competition in the world of international tennis is the least significant, only to emerge as one of the classiest players to hold a racket and serve a ball. A true athlete and a survivor par excellence, Paes’ long journey is emblematic of what tireless endeavour can do for the country. Clearly, the brightest star in the Indian tennis horizon, Paes is the man of the moment, the king of the court as well as the inspiration for the young aspirants who want to take up tennis as a career. Along with Martina Navratilova, we wish Paes many more titles and even greater success in the tennis court in the months and years to come.