The 46-year-old won a bronze medal in singles category at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Leander Paes is inarguably one of the greatest Indian athletes of all-time. He has created many records in his illustrious career and wants to reach another landmark before quitting the game.
The Indian tennis veteran started his career in the ’90s and won the first and only Olympic medal in tennis for India. He has 18 Grand Slam titles to his name and has played in 97 Grand Slams in his career so far.
“I think a lot of (the decision to continue playing) will be based around the fact that I have a few more magical history goals to achieve. I have played 97 Grand Slams so far and if I participate in three more, I get to a hundred Grand Slams. So, that moves me,” said Leander Paes to table tennis player Mudit Dani during a live Instagram session.
“Also, to get to the eighth Olympics to ensure that India is forever on the top as the most number of Olympics played by a tennis player, that is a benchmark I would like to push up.”
Leander Paes had announced last year that he would retire in 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic and postponement of the Tokyo Olympics could extend his career by one more year. For the uninitiated, his first Olympic participation was in 1992 when he took part at the Barcelona Olympics.
He reached the quarterfinals of the tournament with his partner Ramesh Krishnan. However, it was his achievement at the 1996 Atlanta games which immortalized him in Indian sporting folklore. His partnership with Mahesh Bhupati proved vital for Indian tennis, as they won many Grand Slam titles together.
Leander Paes, though, still says that his achievement at the Olympics is bigger than all of his Grand Slam victories.
He remarked, “No matter all the 800-900 other trophies that I have, no matter how many times I polish them or I hold them up, I remember the memories and they are all so beautiful. But, every time I hold up the Olympic torch and medals, it gives me goosebumps. It’s pretty cool for us to play for such a large community in India.”
Paes won the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2001 and Padma Bhusan in 2014.