Leander Paes is an Indian tennis player who is known for holding the record for the most doubles wins in the Davis Cup. He is the first Indian who played six Olympic Games consecutively.
Leander Adrian Paes was born on Sunday, 17 June 1973 (age 49 years; as of 2022) in Calcutta. His zodiac sign is Gemini. He attended La Martiniere, Calcutta and Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School, Chennai. He pursued his graduation from St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta. He is a right-handed player. He has won one singles title, fifty-four doubles, and mixed doubles in his career.
Height (approx.): 5′ 10″
Weight (approx.): 70 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Leander belongs to a family that has a strong sports background.
Parents & Siblings
Leander’s father’s name is Vece Paes, who was a member of the Indian hockey team in the 1972 Munich Olympics. His father belonged to Goa whereas his mother was from Calcutta.
His mother’s name is Jennifer Paes, who was the captain of the Indian basketball team in the 1980 Asian basketball championship.
Paes admired his father a lot and wanted to win a medal just like his father did in 1972. In an interview, he said that every Saturday, he used to polish his father’s medal. When he was young, he used to go to matches, practice sessions and press conferences with his mother. In an interview, he said that he learnt everything about sports from his parents. He further said,
They say your parents are your first teachers and nothing truer has been said. My parents were my first gurus who taught me resilience, dedication and mental tenacity. For a small boy, who was taking on a path that wasn’t very popularly tread in those times, these initial lessons changed the way I looked at life, both personally and professionally. Because I chose sport as my profession, the expectations and pressures of being my parents’ son was felt every day.”
He has two sisters, Maria, and Jacqueline.
Wife & Children
In 2005, it was rumoured that Paes got married to a model, Rhea Pillai.
They have a daughter, Aiyana.
Paes was in a relationship with actress Mahima Chaudhary from 2000 to 2003. In 2016, in an interview, Mahima talked about their breakup and said,
It wasn’t really shocking for me when I came to know that he was going around with someone else. His exit had no impact on my life. In fact, I became more mature as a person. I feel he did the same thing with Rhea (Pillai) as well.”
In 2005, Paes started dating Rhea Pillai. They were together from 2003 to 2014. In 2016, he dated Tanvi Shah, who is a tennis player. In 2021, he started dating actress Kim Sharma. The relationship was confirmed after Kim Sharma took to Instagram to confirm their relationship on 5 September 2021. In 2022, there were reports that Kim and Leander were planning a court marriage; however, in April 2023, some media reports claimed the couple had parted ways.
Paes follows Christianity.
Paes turned pro in 1991. In 2006, he won two gold medals in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles at the Doha Asian Games.
In 1999, Paes and Leander won a doubles event at a Grand Slam and became the first Indian duo to win this event. In the 1990s, they were considered the strongest partnership duo. They became the semi-finalists at three Grand Slams, the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open.
In 1996, he won a bronze medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and became the first Indian after KD Jadhav to win the medal. He played the match even after his wrist was hurt. In an interview, he talked about this and said,
My right wrist was severely injured before coming into that match. Even the physiotherapist and doctors said I was taking a huge risk playing in that match, that I could jeopardise my entire career. I think as an athlete, the greatest thing for me was to win a medal for our people.”
In 1992, at the age of nineteen, he became a quarter-finalist in the doubles event at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
In 1990, at the age of seventeen, he won the Wimbledon Junior title and earned No. 1 in the junior world rankings.
On 29 October 2021, Paes joined the Trinamool Congress in presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Panaji. In 2021, in an interview, he talked about being a part of politics and said,
The opportunity of joining politics has been coming to me for many years. But this time, it was the right opportunity, the correct time, I was in the right position of my life where I have finished with my tennis career and have the time, space, mind and the passion to give to this (new career in politics).”
Sania’s unwillingness to team up with Paes:
In 2012, Paes’s father asked Sania Mirza to give him a written application to play with Paes in a mixed doubles event at the Olympics. Sanya was paired with him because of the All India Tennis Association’s decision after Leander had refused to play with Vishnu Vardhan.
Sania vs Leander:
In 2016, Paes questioned the partnership in the Indian mixed doubles team for the Rio Games. In a Twitter post, she said,
The ONLY way to win with a toxic person, is not to play.”
Accusations of Domestic Violence:
In 2016, he was accused of domestic violence by his rumoured ex-wife Rhea Pillai. In a statement, she said that he used to abuse her verbally, emotionally and economically. In 2022, the court found him responsible for domestic abuse.
Breakpoint in Mahesh and Paes’s partnership:
Leander was involved in a controversy after his partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi ended in 2000. In an interview, Paes said that their friendship suffered because of Bhupati’s closeness with Paes’s ex-girlfriend Mahima Chaudhary. In an interview, he said,
It was hard for me, 1999. There were so many things for me that were breaking down. I was at a very fragile stage in my life with my tennis partnership, with my relationship. And I was being told rumours about Mahesh being close to her, very close to her.”
- Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award (1996)
- Padma Shri Award (2001)
- CNN IBN Indian of the Year (2013)
- Padma Bhushan Award (2014)
- CNN IBN Indian of the Year (2016)
Paes owns a Porsche Cayenne and Ford Endeavour.
- Tennis Player(s): Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer
- Food: Southern Indian with rice, rasam (a broth you put in the rice), Chicken, Sushi
- Singer(s): Andrea Bocelli, Adele
- Books: Nelson Mandela ( Long Walk to Freedom) (1994), Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, Michael Jordan: The Life (2014), My Life (2004)
- Ice cream: Haagen Dazs mint chocolate chip
- Paes’s hobbies include scuba diving and cooking.
- He follows a non-vegetarian diet.
- In 1985, he enrolled in the Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy in Madras (now Chennai) where he was trained by Dave O’Meara. In an interview, he talked about the initial days of his career and said,
I consider myself extremely lucky to have grown up in a city that was so passionate about sports and valued community living above anything else. In the early years, most of my sports experiences were either at school, or with my parents or at the various clubs that they were part of. But it was in the Maidans of Kolkata that I learnt the meaning of being a sports person in the truest sense of the word. Kolkata provided an amazing environment to nurture a young champion and it taught me the lessons of teamwork and community building.”
- In an interview, he recalled that in 2000, he was fortunate enough to carry the Indian flag at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics.
- In 2003, he was admitted to the MD Anderson Cancer Center, after being detected with a brain infection due to which he missed the US Open.
- In 2010, he became one of the Board of Directors of Olympic Gold Quest, a foundation that supports talented Indian athletes.
- In 2012, he became the sports ambassador of Haryana.
- In 2013, he was featured in the film Rajdhani Express in which he played the role of Keshav.
- In 2013, he won the US Open men’s doubles title and became the oldest man at the age of forty to win the title.
- In 2015, Leander and Martina Hingis played the Australian Open mixed doubles and reached the semi-final. In an interview, he talked about his partnership with Martina and said,
Martina and myself have been playing together for the Washington Kastles at the World Team Tennis and have been unbeaten for two seasons, but somehow we never go together for the Slams. I was too shy to ask Martina to play a Slam with me and she probably felt the same.”
- In 2016, Paes moved in with his ex-wife Rhea after his daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
- On 7 April 2018, he became the most successful player in Davis Cup history after winning forty-three doubles.
- In 2020, he took to Instagram to share a picture of himself at the age of six when he won a competition.
- In 2021, Paes did not get a chance to play in the Olympics due to the Covid-19 lockdown. In an interview, he talked about this and said that Rio Olympics in 2016 would be the last game that he played. In an interview, he talked about this and said,
If the Tokyo Olympics is cancelled then I have already played my last Olympics in Rio. I am not going to wait for the next Olympics.”
- In 2021, a documentary web series ‘Break Point’ was released on ZEE5 which was based on the partnership of Leader and Bhupati. They played the role in the web series themselves.
- Paes calls himself an ‘Olympic baby.’ In an interview, he talked about this and said,
I am an Olympic baby! If my father was not in Munich in 1972 when Palestinian terrorists took 12 Israeli hostage and the games were not shut down for four days, I would have never happened. I was conceived in those four days. I guess my parents had nothing else better to do and that’s why I am an Olympic baby.”
- On 7 May 2022, he participated in a football match with the team of All Stars Football Club to collect money for a social cause.
- In 2022, Green Gold Animation released an animation series titled ‘Little Leander,’ for children. The series was based on the journey of Paes to becoming a successful tennis player. In an interview, he talked about the animation series and said,
I have a lot of free time now that I’ve retired from professional tennis after 31 years. I’ve already dabbled with acting through films and documentaries, but one of my biggest ambitions is to inspire and motivate today’s youth all around the world to pursue sports as a career.”
- He works out regularly and often posts pictures of his workout on social media.
- He is often featured on various magazine covers.
- He is a passionate animal lover and often posts pictures of them on social media.