SPO leander paes 12-1695813943964
Leander Paes of India and Martina Hingis of Switzerland show off their trophies after winning their Mixed Doubles Final match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London in 2015. Image Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Tennis icon Leander Paes who became the first-ever Asian player to be nominated for the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2024 defined this history-making moment as the “ultimate honour to be the 1st ever Indian player.”

The stature of Paes in India’s sporting history is unparalleled to this day. He still holds the crown of the most successful tennis player in the country and has enjoyed success on the court that players dream of.

The 50-year-old is once again standing on the verge of making history and is one of the six nominees for the Class of 2024.

He will be competing for the award alongside Cara Black, Ana Ivanovic, Carlos Moya, Daniel Nestor, and Flavia Pennetta in the Player Category.

Paes took to Instagram to describe his feelings and wrote, “Ultimate Honour to be the 1st ever Indian player to be nominated for the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2024. Thank you @tennishallofame for my nomination, here’s to making history.”

Olympic bronze medal

The former world No 1’s — in doubles — biggest achievement undoubtedly was the Olympic bronze medal he bagged in the men’s singles event at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He was 22 when he ended India’s 44-year-old wait for an individual Olympic medal and to this day he remains the only Indian tennis player to win an Olympic medal for India.

Paes competed in seven consecutive Olympics from 1992 to 2016. He is the first Indian and the first tennis player to compete at the seven Olympics. Out of his seven appearances at the Games, he was in medal contention on two occasions.

In 1996, he emerged victorious in the third-place match, and in the 2004 Athens Olympics, he and Mahesh Bhupati finished fourth in men’s doubles after losing to Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic.