The Economic Times
Stock Analysis, IPO, Mutual Funds, Bonds & More

Leander Paes refuses to call Sania Mirza 'toxic', says she's a role model

Tennis champion Leander Paes opens up on coping with antagonism, Sania Mirza’s tweet and the Rio Olympics controversy.

ET Bureau|
Updated: Jan 12, 2017, 12.27 PM IST
Sania Mirza (left) Leander Paes (right).
Leander Paes says he is not one to shy away from speaking the truth, even though some may say otherwise. In a conversation with media veteran Shekhar Gupta last month, Paes shed light on controversies surrounding him.


On what went wrong at the Olympics (when he arrived in Rio a day prior to the match)

You know I'm not one to pull punches ...I've not been one to be shy of the truth.That being said, the fact is that there were three great athletes that went to represent India at the Olympics and we came just shy of winning a medal. In the mixed doubles, Rohan (Bopanna) and Sania (Mirza) had a real chance to win a medal. I always believed that mixed doubles was where our chance was this year. But literally, there were a couple of matches, couple of serves, couple of points... I felt that India could have come back with a medal at the Olympics.

I'm not some one who cries over spilt milk. I've already got an Olympic medal. I've already played seven Olympics. My dream has always been to put India on the map. And to me, to get to Rio was to create that world record in tennis where no athlete on the planet in tennis had ever played seven Olympics.

On Mirza's tweet in which she called an individual toxic, supposedly referring to Paes

(Laughs). It's not fair for me to be on stage here and say that I'm right and they're wrong, because the next time they'll say that they're right and I'm wrong. It's a matter of perspective. Every human being in a democracy has a valid right to their opinion.

On Indian tennis's need for a strong association

I'll leave it to you to figure out.But in the 12 months leading to the Olympics, there was one gentleman who won four mixed doubles titles, all four Grand Slams leading into the Olympics, and there was one young lady who won a mixed doubles title and competed at the French Open against me. We happened to be from the same country. The rest I leave to your opinion.You know, I'm not going to sit up here and be toxic against her because I respect her for what she's done.

On why he'd never call Sania toxic

Why? Because I respect her. I think she's a great role model for female athletes, women in our country.

On using his authority to bring about a thaw in Indian tennis and end personal antagonisms

There has been many a time that I've extended my hand with the so-called olive branch. It's not about in dividual beings, it 's about the sport of tennis. It's about India. Sania and myself have won the Asian Games gold. Mahesh and myself have won Grand Slams.

Rohan and myself have had some great times at Davis Cup. That being said, it's not about individuals. I think the cake is big enough for everybody to eat out of. But at the end of the day, the sport should actually flourish.The country should be put on the global map. What are we fighting over? Nonsense?

On whether India should stop playing against Pakistan, because of escalated tensions at the LOC

Tough question, but I will answer. World War II was stopped for 14 days for the Olympics. I'm an Olympic baby, I'm an Olympic player, an Olympic world record holder, and an Olympic champion.Sport is a vehicle to bridge people through caste, colour, creed and religion. India and Pakistan should play together.

Also Read

Injury cuts short Sania Mirza's Grand Slam return

Azhar, Sangeeta Bijlani pose together at Asad-Anam reception; Telangana CM in attendance, Sania Mirza glitters in burgundy

Azharuddin's son Asad weds Sania Mirza's sister in a traditional ceremony; couple share 'Mr & Mrs' pictures

Sania Mirza, Azharuddin meet Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao, invite him for Anam-Asad's wedding

Sania Mirza turns bridesmaid in red and black at sister Anam's mehendi; Azharuddin celebrates with son Asad

Add Your Comments
Commenting feature is disabled in your country/region.

Popular Categories

Other useful Links

Copyright © 2020 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service