Indian tennis legend Leander Paes announced his retirement on Thursday stating that the year 2020 will be his last as a professional player. Paes, whose international career would have spanned 30 years in 2020, informed about his decision on Twitter, play a ‘few select tournaments’ in 2020 as he plans to bring down curtains on a decorated career.
“I want to announce 2020 as my farewell year as a pro tennis player,” Paes wrote in a statement, which he posted on his twitter handle. “I am looking forward to the 2020 tennis calendar where I will be playing a few select tournaments, travelling with my team and celebrating with all my friends and fans around the world.
“It is all of you who have inspired me to become me and I want to take this year to say “Thank You” to you.”
Paes, 46, is the winner of 18 Grand Slams titles – eight doubles and ten mixed doubles. After turning pro in 1991, Paes won a bronze medal for India in singles in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. He has competed in every Olympics between 1992 and 2016, making him the only Indian to feature at seven different games.
During the late 1990s, Paes formed a formidable team with Mahesh Bhupathi with both becoming the No. 1 ranked doubles pair in the world and winning three Grand Slam titles together. Earlier this year, Paes represented India at the Davis Cup and recorded his 44th win in the competition’s doubles category, alongside debutant Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan as India steamrolled Pakistan 4-0.
For his outstanding contribution to tennis in India, Paes has been the recipient of several awards – the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, India’s highest sporting honour, in 1996–97; the Arjuna Award in 1990; the Padma Shri award in 2001; and India’s third-highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan in January 2014.