Calcutta: Leander Paes has won 11 career Grand Slams but what makes him a true champion is the respect he shows for fellow sportspersons.
The current Australian Open mixed doubles champion was effusive in his praise for Team India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the iconic Sachin Tendulkar, Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia and chess player Viswanathan Anand.
I find Mahendra Singh Dhoni to be an absolutely wonderful human being. Not only is he a champion performer but is one leader who commands a lot of respect from his teammates.
My respect for him is all the more as he has to take tremendous workload and absorb the pressure and expectations of fans. I myself has been a captain and know how tough it can get, Leander said while addressing the media at a felicitation organised by the Bengal Table Tennis Association on Monday.
Incidentally, Leander is staying at the same hotel where the Indians are staying. The former Davis Cup captain took his daughter Aiyana to wish Dhoni good luck for the Test match.
Leander, who first played for India in a Davis Cup match in 1990 has completed 20 years of playing career like Sachin and Anand. What in his opinion has made them sustain for so long?
I guess, myself, Vishy (Anand) and Sachin have one thing in common. The passion and respect we have for our respective professions. All the three of us have continued to strive for excellence for two decades. A legend is one who has continuously excelled in his field for a long period of time and Sachin is one such sportsman. Today he scored his 47th Test century and looks good for many more, he answered.
He also praised his close friend Bhaichung, whom he termed as person who is very clean at heart.
Bhaichung has often come under the scanner, but I know he is someone who is good at heart. He is someone who is always trying to help someone or the other.