It seemed like he would last for an eternity. But then nothing ever does, and that is also true for one of India’s greatest Tennis stars ever – Leander Paes. The 46-year-old announced his retirement on Twitter in a heartfelt post with the captions ‘#OneLastRoar’.
“I want to announce 2020 as my farewell year as a pro tennis player,” he wrote. “I am looking forward to the 2020 tennis calendar where I will be playing a few select tournaments, traveling 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.”
— Leander Paes (@Leander) December 25, 2019
The year 2020 will bring curtains down on one of the most decorated tennis players the country has ever seen. Having been born to an Olympic champion, Paes won his first Junior title in Wimbledon in followed by the 1990 US Open title in 1991. He was the world’s number one junior player that year.
Six years later at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, he became the first Indian to clinch the coveted bronze medal in the singles category. He was also the second, after KD Jadhav, to win an individual medal at the Olympics.
Having debuted at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be Leander’s seventh appearance at the global sporting spectacle, the most by any Indian.
Although he was better off as a singles player, Paes’ best came when he completely shifted to doubles in the early 2000s. Over the next two decades, he amassed 18 Grand Slam titles – eight in men’s and ten in mixed doubles.
Just last month, Paes extended his Davis Cup world record by conquering his 44th doubles match in the tournament.
However, the last few years have not been as illustrious for Paes. His last Grand Slam came back in 2016 (in the mixed doubles category of the French Open with Martina Hingis) while the last tour title was in 2015 at Auckland with South African Raven Klaasen.
Moreover, the player has also dropped out of the World top 100 for the first time in over 19 years.
While he is certainly past his best, you can never discount Leander Paes. After all, Lion’s last roar can be the most lethal one!