The Telegraph
Thursday , November 26 , 2015
 
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Paes to take a call after Rio

- I’d like to go out on a high, says winner of 17 slams

Calcutta: Leander Paes, winner of three Grand Slam titles (all with Martina Hingis) this year, and 17 overall, will take a call on his career after the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Leander is 42.

"You know me well enough... I'd like to go out on a high and much would depend on how I fare in Rio. I've already got a bronze in the Olympics, in the singles, and I'd love to have another medal, either in the doubles or the mixed doubles," Leander told The Telegraph shortly after arriving here on Wednesday morning.

Leander is credited with appearances in six consecutive Olympics, beginning with Barcelona, in 1992. It's an India record for the champion whose roots are in Calcutta.

Shooter-turned-administrator Randhir Singh also went to six Olympics, but was a reserve only on his first trip - Tokyo, in 1964.

Incidentally, the bronze was won by Leander in Atlanta (1996).

"I could go on for a few years more, but let's see what happens in Rio. As I've said, today, it's not about reinventing the wheel, but replicating it," Leander added.

For longevity and consistency, Leander's a shining example. By the way, he's the oldest Grand Slam champion, which itself says so much.

Fortytwo, clearly, is a mere number for Leander. In fact, he'll take to Rio as a 43-year-old.

Aware that he's a role model and, so, has an obligation towards society, Leander intends doing "community work."

Leander explained: "I've received enormous support from across India, right through the decades, and I'd like to give something back to the community...

"I'm a local boy here, so Calcutta will be on my radar. Then, I've got a home in Mumbai and I'd be looking to do something there as well...

"Those of us who're in the limelight should give something back to the people who've showered us with their affection...

"I intend doing that... Intend spreading goodness in the best manner that I can."

Leander turned nostalgic while recalling his first visit to the Netaji Indoor Stadium (second was in the evening).

"It was in late 1981, during the Indian Classic Cup, when I was Ivan Lendl's ball boy...

"I was just eight then and, obviously, very excited. I also remember that Lendl gave me one of his Adidas T-shirts. It made my day even better," Leander pointed out.

Lendl, who finished with eight Grand Slam titles (none at Wimbledon, though), beat John Alexander in the final on November 5 that year.

It was a two-day event, at a time when the big guns came here much more frequently.

From Calcutta, the IPTL's star-studded promotional team heads to Hyderabad and New Delhi.

After that, Leander would be off to Osaka.


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