Award Name : Arjuna Award
Year of Award : 1990
Award for : Sports and Games
Location : Kolkata, Bengal, India
Leander Adrian Paes is an Indian professional tennis player who is considered to be one of the best doubles and mixed doubles players of all time. Leander Paes was born on 17 June 1973, in Calcutta, India. Belonging to the Goan Catholic community in Calcutta, his parents - father Vece Paes and mother Jennifer Paes were sportspersons. Vece was a midfielder in the Indian field hockey team, while Jennifer was a basketball player. Leander Paes attended La Martiniere School and graduated from St. Xavier's College in Calcutta. Thereafter, he was enrolled into the Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy in Madras in 1985, where he was given training by Coach Dave O'Meara. Paes sharpened his skills in tennis by practicing at the Academy. Paes began playing tennis at the age of five, and in 1985 he joined a tennis academy in Madras. He won the 1990 Wimbledon junior title and was briefly ranked the number one junior player in the world. Paes joined the Indian Davis Cup team in 1990 and turned professional in 1991. In 1996 when he took the men’s singles tennis bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games, he became the first Indian athlete since 1952 to win an individual Olympic medal.
Paes began a doubles partnership with countryman Mahesh Bhupathi in 1994. In both 1997 and 1998, the duo captured six Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) doubles titles out of the eight tournament finals they reached during each year. Paes and Bhupathi advanced to the doubles finals of all four Grand Slam tournaments in 1999, winning the French Open and Wimbledon but losing in the Australian and U.S. Opens. That year saw the pair ascend to the number one ATP doubles ranking, but personal problems between them soon led to the dissolution of their full-time partnership. Paes and Bhupathi did play together on occasion over the following years, including at the 2001 French Open, which they won for the second time.
Without Bhupathi, Paes continued his doubles success, winning five additional Grand Slam titles with a series of Czech partners: the 2006 U.S. Open, the 2009 French and U.S. Opens and the 2012 Australian Open and the 2013 U.S. Open. By winning the Australian title, Paes captured the prestigious career Grand Slam. In mixed doubles, he won Grand Slam championships at Wimbledon (1999, 2003, 2010), the Australian Open (2003, 2010), and the U.S. Open (2008) with partners Lisa Raymond (1999), Martina Navratilova (2003), and Cara Black (2008–10). In 1990, he received the Arjuna Award. In 2001 Paes and Bhupathi were awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian honours.