Leander Paes
Leander Paes has represented India in six Olympics so far.IANS

Indian tennis legend Leander Paes has given a piece of his mind in a no holds barred interview to Press Trust of India, saying that his competitors are highly jealous of him and are keen on tarnishing his image. Paes, 43, spoke following the end of the India vs Spain Davis Cup 2016 World Group Playoffs.

Paes, who is one of the most successful Davis Cup players ever from the country, had earlier also criticised the India mixed doubles team selection for the Rio 2016 Olympics, something which was slammed by Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna later, who were paired for the quadrennial sporting event.

Paes looked lethal in the build-up to the Rio Olympics as he won three mixed doubles titles with Martina Hingis in 2015 and one in 2016 -- the Australian Open, the Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015, while the French Open in 2016. He has a total of ten Grand Slam mixed doubles titles as well as eight Grand Slam men's doubles titles over the years.

Paes paired alongside Saketh Myneni in the Davis Cup 2016 against Spain. They played some good tennis and troubled the Spaniards in the first set, but the pairing of Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez were just too strong to win 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-4.

"In this part of my career, most of my competitors are highly jealous. They might not understand what it takes to win 18 Grand Slams and play seven Olympics. Some competitors, you give them 10 life times, they will still not be able to achieve that," said Paes to PTI. "Instead of working hard, they want to knock me down."

"Few people are always trying to tarnish my reputation. There are some competitors out there, who are highly jealous of what I have achieved. Instead of working hard, to achieve it themselves, they realise, they can't to that quantum, so hence, let's ruin his reputation. One person will put one story here, one there and build perception.

"In this modern age of living in limelight, everybody wants to be a hero. People will bark, let them bark, they will look bad themselves. I will run my race. Till a junior comes and says 'Lee I am beating you all the time', till I am winning Grand Slams, I will continue to play. I had to earn it and others will also have to earn it," he added.

Paes may not have named anyone in his blasting interview, but going by news reports over the years, he might have slammed the likes of Mahesh Bhupathi, Bopanna and even Sania, with whom he has had fallouts at some point in his career.

Indirect references were made to Paes by Sania and Bopanna through their tweets