His monumental achievements notwithstanding, controversies keep chasing Leander Paes but the marathon man of Indian tennis says they are nothing more than false propaganda initiated by a few of his “highly jealous” competitors.
Paes did not take any names but said the negativity that is being built around his name in recent times is a result of a few underachievers’ sinister design.
The bitterness of not getting a shot at the Rio Olympics mixed doubles event rankled Paes and the veteran Indian tennis star had no qualms in stating that the country did not send its best team for the Games.
“I can very clearly say that in this Olympics and last Olympics we didn’t put the best team forward. This Olympics the mixed doubles was a great opportunity. What more does a man need to do than win four Grand Slams in 14 months. There was no more tournaments to win, I could not create anymore tournaments. Sad. Long story short, let’s nurture these kids,” Paes said during India’s 5-0 Davis Cup loss to Spain, referring to his fantastic mixed doubles run leading up to Rio.
Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna, India’s mixed doubles pairing which lost in the bronze medal playoff at Rio, hit back at his comments on Monday through Twitter, appearing to take a shot at Paes without directly naming him.
At it again!! ...the usual ploy to stay in the news by slanging fellow players in media. #Patriotism— Rohan Bopanna (@rohanbopanna) September 18, 2016
Whenever it comes to playing for India on the big stage, be it the Olympics, Asian Games or in Davis Cup, tennis has found itself mired in controversies.
Paes said he does not care what people say or think about him since he’s busy writing his name in the history books, that no one can change.
“In this part of my career, most of my competitors are highly jealous. They might not understand what it takes to win 18 Grand Slams and play seven Olympics. Some competitors, you give them 10 lifetimes, they will still not be able to achieve that. Instead of working hard, they want to knock me down,” Paes told PTI in an interview during the Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie against Spain, which concluded on Sunday with the Europeans winning 5-0.
“They want to ruin my reputation by doing ulterior things, so that the perception of the public is that Leander is a bad man. It takes a whole lifetime to build a reputation and it takes one second to ruin it,” he said.
Is he tired of this negativity? Does he get frustrated?
“I am a human being. But I don’t deal with it now,” he said in a nonchalant way.
“In this modern age of social media, I understand there will be some negativity. The people who are true and honest, whether they are good with me or not, I respect them.
“Few people are always trying to tarnish my reputation. There are some competitors out there, who are highly jealous of what I have achieved. Instead of working hard to achieve it themselves, they realise, they can’t to that quantum, so hence, let’s ruin his reputation. One person will put one story here, one there and build perception,” he said with disgust.
Paes said he does not care about these people, who “bark” about him, and will continue to do what he does best - excel on tennis courts.
“Not to worry about haters. You play your game, you run in your lane, don’t enter into others’ lane. I will write my name in the history books. That is fruit of your hard work.
“People believe it or not, media write or not, but the intelligent people, the knowledgeable people will see history books and I have written my name there many times and will write many more times. That can’t change, you can’t forge a history book and you can’t change history books.”
“In this modern age of living in limelight, everybody wants to be a hero. People will bark, let them bark, they will look bad themselves. I will run my race. Till a junior comes and says ‘Lee I am beating you all the time’, till I am winning Grand Slams, I will continue to play. I had to earn it and others will also have to earn it.”