Break Point soon to hit the screens, we look the astonishing career of tennis star Leander Paes
A household name across India, Leander Paes is undoubtedly the greatest player in the history of Tennis. However, his path to success was never an easy one
A hero for some and villain for others – that will be the second biggest legacy of Leander Paes in India’s Tennis History. The first, however, will be of him winning India’s only medal in Tennis at the Olympics. Here’s the complete journey of the man behind some of the greatest moments of India’s tennis history.
The initial journey
Leander Paes was born into a family of sports professionals. His father, Vese Paes is a former midfielder in the Indian Hockey team and was the squad member of the Indian team that won bronze at the 1972 Munich Olympic. Leander’s mother Jennifer Paes is the former captain of India’s national women’s basketball team and had the chance to represent her country in basketball during the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Coming from such strong a sports background, Leander was a born sportsperson. However, the sport he chose was new to his family. And to master the same, Paes enrolled in Britannica Amritraj Tennis Academy in Madras in 1985.
Paes stormed into headlines when he won the 1990 Wimbledon junior title. Rising to no.1 in junior rankings of international tennis at just the age of 17, Leander had his successful Tennis journey written ever since.
Growing up in Kolkata and playing on the grass courts @Wimbledon has always felt like home! It started with a win in the Junior Singles in 1990 & finding my feet but the process of reinventing still continues. Missing the vibes and energy of The All England Club SW19. #Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/9HowjLGydh— Leander Paes OLY (@Leander) July 3, 2020
The professional career
Leander Paes turned professional in the year 1991 as he started entering professional Tennis Championships. However, his biggest breakthrough and achievement came during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. No one was expecting a medal from India, a country with 16 years of Olympic medal-less appearances at that time. Leander Paes, however, was determined to end his first Olympic journey in style. The young star with an injured wrist emerged victorious by ending India’s 16 years of Olympic drought. Nonetheless, he also became the first and only Indian to win a medal at Olympics in Tennis.
Meanwhile, Paes started his doubles partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi in 1994. The two partnered for multiple double championships. Though the first year of their partnership was not successful at all, what followed later, made both of them the stars of Indian Tennis.
The duo won 25 ATP doubles titles and had a winning streak of 24 at the Davis Cup. They were also the No. 1 tennis doubles in 1999. Dubbed as the Indian Express, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, together, won three grand slams for doubles including their biggest feat Wimbledon 1999. However, the two had their alliances broken in 2006. Nonetheless, to make India proud in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the two came together for another time before splitting permanently in 2011. With their final split, the celebrated heroes turned villains for each other and for many of their fans as well.
I’m always game 🎾😁 what’s the plan? https://t.co/A18qzVa6sb— Leander Paes OLY (@Leander) July 4, 2021
On and off, the two partnered together for almost 15 years and became the most celebrated duo of India’s tennis doubles. In doubles, Paes had won eight grand slams in all, three with Bhupathi, two each with Lukáš Dlouhý and Radek Štěpánek, and one with Martin Damm.
In mixed doubles, Leander had the honour to win 10 grand slam titles where he won one with Lisa Raymond, 2 with Martina Navratilova and 3 with Cara Black, and 4 with Martina Hingis. Coming over to ATP titles, Leander managed to fetch one in singles while massive 55 titles in doubles. The tennis career of Leander Paes is adorned with the best of titles and medals in all formats of the game. Apart from 8 grand slams, and 55 ATP titles, and one Olympic gold medal, Paes also won seven medals (5 golds and 2 bronze) in Asian games across multiple formats.
Leander Paes planned to retire after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, because of the COvid 19 pandemic, India’s ace wasn’t able to qualify for the Olympics. Now, for many, Leander is in the state of retirement, it’s just the official announcement that is still to be made.
With 4th place at Davish Cups’ highest wins record, Leander Paes is undoubtedly India’s greatest ever tennis player. The ace of his, Paes league is also one of the world’s greatest doubles players. Even if he retires, Leander Paes, with all his top-notch achievements, will always remain a superstar in the history of Indian Tennis.
Though Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were nicknamed Indian Express for their partnership in the doubles format of professional tennis, they both had faultlines that always remained between them. To bring these faultlines to the public, Zee5 is bringing its much-awaited Web Series Break Point. Break Point will showcase the exact reasons for splits and rifts between India’s best doubles.
Their charisma electrified the tennis court, but their chemistry off court kept them from becoming the greatest doubles champions in Tennis. #Breakpoint – The untold story of Mahesh Bhupathi & Leander Paes premieres on 1st October only on #ZEE5 #BromanceToBreakup pic.twitter.com/73WRzH8j1Y— ZEE5 (@ZEE5India) September 17, 2021
In the trailer released earlier, both Bhupathi and Paes can be seen exchanging allegations and accusations for the breakup of their bromance. Unlike any other past story about the two, Break Point will focus on various aspects of their split, such as its effects on budding tennis players. Break Point is all set to release on Zee5 on the 1st of October.