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Noah Rubin’s “Behind The Racquet” with Leander Paes • Tennis | 10sBalls

Editor’s note: 10sBalls thanks Noah Rubin for giving us permission to repost these great stories.

“I grew up in a family where my father won a medal in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, and he played field hockey. My mother on the other hand, all 5’1″ of her, captain of the Indian basketball team. Every Sunday, I used to wake up in the morning after church and polish my dad’s Olympic medal. It’s not rocket science that I wanted to play for India and represent 1.3 billion Indians to prove that we could be Olympic champions in an individual sport.

My whole journey was about patriotism. It has been about playing for my people and it has been about inspiring 1 billion-plus people that we can be world champions on the global stage. 

I realized that tennis was my vehicle and that if I wanted to get to the Olympics, I really had to persevere. I put my head down. I worked really hard for three years and in the summer of 1990, I won Junior Wimbledon. In February of 1990, I met another young Indian kid. I said to him, “Would you like to win Wimbledon?” He laughed at me and he said, “You’re crazy.” I said, “I know I’m crazy, but would you like to win Wimbledon or not?” He said, “Sure, teach me.” Nine years later, we won Wimbledon, and that’s what Breakpoint is all about.

I realized that this journey that I’d embarked on with Mahesh was that we could actually be the best in the world. I gave up my singles career to prove to India that we could be the best in the world in doubles. Some people call it sacrifice. What I love about what Mahesh and I have done, and we’re so grateful to ZEE5 for giving us this platform to tell our story very truthfully, we were courageous enough to also show our weaknesses.

It’s not about whether Mahesh is right, Leander’s wrong, Leander’s right, Mahesh is wrong. That doesn’t matter. What matters is to inspire the next generation to learn from our lives so that they can be champions on their own in any walk of life. That’s what my takeaway from Breakpoint is.

I think living the life of a student of my craft, living the life of a student for life, you learn to handle triumph and defeat and treat those two impostors just the same. Why? Because you will always continue being a student. I think that people have to do their jobs and just as people have to print their stories, tell their version, make their history behind it. I think the fun for me in my life is about emulating my parents and becoming an Olympic champion. The fun for me, and the greatest honor for me in my life, is to play for my flag, to play for the Tiranga and prove that Indians can be world leaders in any walk of life.

I’m very grateful to live the life I have. I’m very grateful to have opportunities to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves. I think that’s what the world needs. It needs some great people to do some very simple and basic things but do them very frequently on a day-to-day level. I think that’s how champions are born.”

Leander Paes (@leanderpaes)


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Also listen to Noah Rubin’s Podcast

Behind the Racquet Pod Mike Cation & Noah Rubin/Tennis Channel Podcast Network

and check out his new clothing line!