Award Name : Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna
Year of Award : 1996
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. He was born to Goan parents in Kolkata where he was raised. His father Vece Paes was a hockey player who participated in the 1972 Olympics while his mother Jennifer had captained the Indian basketball team. He completed his schooling from La Martiniere and then went to the St. Xavier’s College. Leander formed an early interest in tennis and enrolled at the Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy in Madras in 1985. His coach was Dave O’Meara who played a key role in grooming him. As a teenager he won the 1990 Wimbledon Junior title and became the No.1 ranked world junior for a while.
He took part in 1992 Barcelona Olympics in doubles event with Ramesh Krishnan and could reach up to quarter finals. In 1993, he went up to semifinal in the US Open doubles partnering with Sebastien Lareau. From 1996, Mahesh Bhupathi became his partner and this became a winning combination. Paes also joined Lisa Raymond and won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon. He soon went on to reach number one rank in doubles. His partnership with Bhupathi won French Open in 2001 and gold medal at the 2002 Asian Games held at Busan. In 2003, he was able to win mixed doubles event at Australian Open and Wimbledon with Martina Navaratilova. In recognition to his talents in sports, the Government of India honored him with the Arjuna Award in 1990, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 1996-97 and the Padma Shri award in 2001. He made his film debut in the film Rajdhani Express by Ashok Kohli playing the part of a terrorist.