MULTIPLE Grand Slam winner Leander Paes on Tuesday (26) emerged as the first Asian man to be nominated for the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the player category.
Besides Paes, former India player Vijay Amritraj was also nominated in the contributor category.
The 50-year-old Paes was one of the six nominees announced for the Class of 2024. He will be competing with Cara Black, Ana Ivanovic, Carlos Moya, Daniel Nestor and Flavia Pennetta in the Player Category.
Li Na, the Chinese player who won the women’s singles title at Australian Open and French Open, became the first Asian player to get nominated to the ITHF in 2019.
“It means the world to me that I am the first Asian man to be nominated for the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the Player Category,” said Paes.
“After three decades of passion for our sport and playing for 1.3-plus billion Indians in the Olympics and Davis Cup, I am thrilled that my hard work has been recognised.
“I have so much gratitude for my parents, siblings, coaches, Davis Cup captains and everyone who has played a role in my career,” he added.
Paes is a winner of 18 Grand Slam titles in doubles and mixed doubles, besides being a former doubles world No. 1.
In a career spanning three decades, he captured eight Grand Slams in doubles, 10 in mixed doubles and a career Slam in both disciplines.
“Tennis has given me so much, and I hope this nomination inspires every young kid around the world that with passion in your heart, hard work and belief in yourself, you too can become a champion,” Paes said.
Paes spent a total of 462 weeks inside the ATP doubles top 10, including 37 weeks at No. 1, and won 55 doubles titles on tour.
A Davis Cup mainstay for India for 30 years, Paes holds the competition’s record with 43 doubles ties victories. In 1996, he became India’s only Olympic medalist in tennis, earning bronze at the Atlanta Games.
“The ballot will also include two nominees in the contributor category, Vijay Amritraj and renowned journalist Richard Evans,” ITHF said on its website.