Leander Paes at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Children of Determination clinic
Leander Paes poses with children after a clinic during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Image Credit: Organisers

Dubai: What sort of a life would Leander Paes choose after he stops playing competitive tennis on the international stage?

While he will remain closely linked to the sport when his playing career ends, he has also got some other things lined up.

“That’s a struggle because there are so many things and I’m trying to narrow it down. What my team has done is we’ve tried to take the next five years, six years and we’ll try to prioritize what’s important now and what’s important in 2021, what’s important in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

“There’s an autobiography I’m working on. There’s a movie we’re working on. There’s sports education we’re working on. There’s businesses we’ve built. My friendships all around the world is what my business is about, you know what I mean. I believe that modern business is a deep trust, especially the way the world is spinning now,” Paes told Gulf News.

“It’s funny how many young players, even older players, come for advice across the sport. I think the mental attitude is something I can make a big difference in. I don’t like to preach about technique, this and that. I can take someone’s technique and polish it up. I’m very sharp to understand that each one has their own technique.

“Would I coach? Yeah, sure. If the right one comes along. I would only want to coach someone I believe that can win grand slams, otherwise doesn’t attract as much. Male, female, either way,” Paes insisted.

The 46-year-old was also confident he could find the next big talent in India. “It’s a long journey. It’s a very long journey, especially coming from India. If you want to have a singles champion, there’s never been one. I think in that quest to achieve greatness, one must not lose out on the beauty of what sport brings. I think a country of 1.4 billion, you only have a handful of champions in any sport, the real great ones. Nowadays the word legend is used very loosely. If you’re talking about true legends, I think there are very few,” he pointed out.

“As you look at the top of the pyramid there, I’m also looking at the base of the pyramid because I think that’s where the greatest improvement can happen. If you look at India, number one in the world in diabetes, number one in the world in obesity. These few things, sport can eradicate that and take it away. Just play sport, go for a run, go for a walk, just do yoga. I would love to take that into all the schools in the country and create that sporting culture,” Paes concluded.