Born on 17 June 1973 in Calcutta, Leander took to tennis at the age of six, though his first passion was football (he used to sleep with his boots under the pillow!). His parents are both avid sportspersons — father Vece is a former Olympian hockey player and his mother Jennifer, a basketball international.
His most precious possession is the medal he won at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 in the tennis singles. His victory was all the sweeter because he was only the second Indian to win an individual medal at the Olympics. And as he stood on the podium wearing his bronze medal, millions of his countrymen watched Leander Paes weep tears of pride and joy.
In the semifinal, Leander was up against Andre Agassi, a formidable opponent. But he put up a tough fight, going down in the tie-breaker in the first set. He lost the match 7-6, 6-3. For the bronze medal Paes met Fernando Meligeni and came back from a set down to score a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win.
Leander, who has pulled off some amazing upsets in the Davis Cup, has always surpassed himself when playing for the country. He once said,"I always seem to rise to the occasion whenever pushed against the wall."
He certainly rose to the occasion at Atlanta.