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Tennis

'With hard work and belief, anybody can become a champion': Leander Paes

Legendary Leander Paes became the first Indian to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame along with Vijay Amritraj.

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Leander Paes. (File Photo: Getty)

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 29 May 2024 5:34 PM GMT

"It was a humbling moment," Leander Paes smiled after his induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2024 players category.

In what could be the biggest laurel he has received as a tennis player, Leander Paes, in an interview with The Hindu, talked about his journey and what it means to him to be part of such an elite list.

“Today I am so privileged, to take not just me but India’s 1.4 billion people to the Hall of Fame,” Paes told The Hindu.

"I grew up in a middle-class family whose passion was for sports. And it just shows that with hard work and belief, anybody can become a champion.”

Paes has won 18 majors for India eight in doubles and ten in mixed doubles category. Most importantly, he won India's first individual medal at the Olympics in Atalanta, in 1996, when he won the men's singles bronze medal.

He has also represented India in a record seven Olympics.

“To be No.1 and see the Indian flag flying high is pretty cool. Twenty Slams (including two in juniors) and World No.1 meant more than being in the singles top-10," he continued.

Paes also paid tribute to legendary Rafael Nadal, who lost in the first round at Roland-Garros on Monday.

"To see a 14-time champion be unseeded and lose in the first round, I understand that feeling all too well," he concluded.

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