On Christmas 2019, the 46-year-old veteran, Leander Paes, used social media to announce his intention of hanging his racquet at the end of 2020. He has won 18 Grand Slam titles (8 in men’s doubles and 10 in mixed doubles), the highest by any Indian player. It is not often that news of an expected retirement of a 46-year-old can evoke such strong emotions, but it is different with Paes. A passionate and enduring career spread over 30 years will eventually come to an end in 2020.
Once he stepped into his 40s, the retirement decision had to come sooner rather than later, but Leander maintained that he still enjoyed the sport and wanted to carry on. The last few years have been tough on Paes, as for the first time in 19 years, his ranking dropped out of the top 100 and is currently 105. He won his last Grand Slam title in 2016, and since then, finding a decent partner was getting increasingly difficult.
Paes has been planning with his team as to how to make this year a memorable experience for his fans, ever since he announced #OneLastRoar, the brand for his Farewell Tour. “The 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 my honour being your LionHeart.” Leander wrote under the hashtag #OneLastRoar. His emotional announcement on twitter has surely saddened and gladdened his fans at the same time.
Leander thanked his parents for their genetics, guidance, discipline and unconditional love. He also expressed gratitude to his sisters, daughter and most importantly, the Fans, for inspiring him. The Davis Cup doubles win in the last month was the icing on the cake, as he won his 44th doubles match in that tournament.
In his marathon year, the four Grand Slam events are very much in his plans and he also eyes the two most important events – The Davis Cup in March and The Tokyo Olympics. This could be his 8th appearance in the Olympics event subject to qualification.
An Olympic medallist, the former World no. 1 in men’s doubles, the only Indian to win all four Grand Slam in men’s doubles, and record holder for most doubles wins at Davis Cup. Actor, Arjuna Award winner, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, the most successful tennis player India has produced. And now he’s ready for his one last roar.
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