Former Australian and French Open singles champion Mary Pierce says Leander Paes is a legend and added she is a big fan of Mahesh Bhupathi, in an interview to IANS. Pierce, who will be in India as part of the Roland Garros junior wild card event next week, says, "Leander Paes is a legend.
He has achieved a lot in tennis. I think he is a great ambassador for the sport of tennis and India. It is amazing to see how fit and healthy he is at this age. He has had an incredible career and he should be really proud of everything he has achieved for himself and his country."
The 46 year old Paes will be retiring at the end of the 2020 season after a decorated career in which he has won 18 Grand Slam titles (eight in doubles and 10 in mixed doubles) and also won the Olympic singles bronze medal at Atlanta.
On Paes' former partner Mahesh Bhupathi, whom she partnered with to win the Wimbledon mixed doubles title in 2005, Pierce says, "I am a big fan of Mahesh Bhupathi. I think he is a great person and a tennis legend.
I was honoured and privileged to play mixed-doubles with him. I had so much fun while playing with him. I learnt a lot and was sometimes in awe while sharing the court with him. Winning the mixed doubles in Wimbledon was like a dream come true for me.
I can proudly say that I am a Wimbledon grand slam champion." 45 year old Bhupathi was the first Indian to win a Grand Slam title at the 1997 French Open when he won the mixed doubles event with Rika Hiraki. He went on to win four men’s doubles and seven more mixed doubles Grand Slam titles during his career.