‘Being born into a sporting family legacy was a daunting realization’

Former doubles world No. 1 Leander Paes was recently elected to receive the Ultimate Honour in Tennis – induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame – as the Class of 2024.

Paes, an 18-time Grand Slam champion in doubles and mixed doubles, has been selected in the Player Category to receive tennis’ Ultimate Honour.

The Class of 2024 will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, July 20, 2024 in Newport, Rhode Island. Paes will join an elite group of 264 inductees from 27 nations – with India set to become the 28th nation represented in the Hall of Fame.

Speaking about the induction, Leander Paes said “It has been my life’s honour to play for my country for over 3 decades in a sport that has given me and taught me everything and this acknowledgement is indeed the ultimate accolade for every tennis player.

“The International Tennis Hall of Fame induction belongs not just to me but to our billion plus Indians and to every young kid who nurtures a dream in their heart and fire in their belly to follow their passions.”

“Being born into a sporting family legacy was a daunting realization inspired by my parents, I’ve always been motivated to stand and hear the national anthem which has spurred me on ever since I picked up a wooden tennis racket as a five-year-old.

“The challenges that I encountered from playing gully cricket and street football in the by lanes of Calcutta dreaming of representing my country to getting mugged as a teenager at Grand Central Station to hitchhiking rides through European tournaments and sleeping in cold locker rooms when one couldn’t afford a hotel room to then going on to lift several Wimbledon trophies in the presence of royalty, standing on an Olympic podium with a singles medal emulating my father, achieving the all-time doubles win record in Davis Cup for India and completing career Grand Slams in both men’s doubles and mixed doubles has been nothing short of a dream.

“Receiving this Hall of Fame honour as the 1st Asian man in the Player Category culminates a professional journey of a lifetime standing on the shoulders of the greats and sets the tone for many other youngsters in Asia and around the world,’’ he added.

During his three-decade career, Leander Paes set a gold standard of tennis success in Asia. With eight doubles Grand Slam titles and ten in mixed doubles, he is one of only three men in tennis history to capture a career Grand Slam in both disciplines. Paes is also tied with his former partner, Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova, for the most mixed doubles major titles in history.

Additionally, he and Hall of Famer Martina Hingis are one of only two mixed doubles teams in the Open Era to complete a career

Grand Slam together. Paes along with his fellow Indian Mahesh Bhupathi were also the 1st ever men’s doubles team in the Open era to make all 4 Grand Slam finals in a calendar year (1999).

Paes spent a total of 462 weeks inside the ATP doubles top 10, including 37 weeks at No. 1, and won 55 doubles titles on tour with a record 25 year-end finishes inside the top 100, a sheer testament of his longevity at the highest level with him being the only man with ATP Tour, Davis Cup and Grand Slam match wins in

4 different decades. Paes along with his Hall of Famer idol Rod Laver are also the only two men to win Wimbledon and Roland Garros titles in three different decades.

Paes proudly represented India in international competition for 30 years, winning a Davis Cup record 45 doubles rubbers during his career and 93 total wins in singles and doubles giving him the 4th highest of

all-time Davis Cup wins. He competed in a record seven consecutive Olympic Games, the most in tennis history, and is India’s only Olympic medallist in tennis, capturing bronze in singles at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

In addition, Paes is the most decorated male tennis player in Asian Games history with 8 medals as well as a former junior singles world No 1 with 2 junior Slam titles.

By winning the Hall of Fame’s Fan Vote in October, Paes received three added percentage points to his ballot totals from the Official Voting Group.

The Class of 2024 will be inducted Saturday, July 20, 2024 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island during Enshrinement Weekend celebrations.

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