Leander Paes—doubles master with 18 Grand Slam titles and one Olympic gold medal—is sailing through his last season as a professional tennis player. With many records and honors associated to his name, the Indian can be proud of having had a brilliant career, one which doesn’t miss much to be described as perfect.
But is there one last thing that the 46-year-old wishes he could win in 2020, if he gets the appropriate opportunity? “I could sit here and say a Grand Slam, I could sit here and say an Olympic Medal, I could sit here and say Davis Cup to get India into the World Group,” Paes answered after his quarterfinals loss at the Tata Open Maharashtra.
“There are so many things to still win”. What if he had to pick only one thing? “I think if I can transition from being a professional athlete, where most athletes have trouble with that, into my second innings; if I do that journey well over the next 18 months, I will probably look forward to sitting here, if we’re both still around, in about fifteen years, and letting one of my young kids answer that,” he explained.
“That’s the one thing I’d like to win. I’d like to help someone else to win. And it could be anything in life. It could be India came close to reaching the moon, we haven’t had one Grand Slam in a couple years now.
It could be getting into the World Group of Davis Cup. It could be preparing other athletes. It could be motivating 745 million people to be champions themselves. I think that would be cool. The transition would be amazing. It’s funny how I’m very motivated by this”.
Paes is, as he said himself a couple of years ago, a student of the game, but also a student of life, “And a student of other games. There are so many things in life that are there than just tennis”.