Leander Paes Marriage: Did He Marry Or Did He Not?

Leander Paes needs no introduction. He has a total of 18 Grand Slam titles in his portfolio, and is the oldest man to have ever won a Grand Slam title. Is it any wonder that a Leander Paes marriage story is what everyone is craving. Paes is one player who inspired several youngsters to consider tennis as a serious sport in a county mostly obsessed with cricket. But as one shifts attention to his personal life, we realise it is quite turbulent one. The alleged Leander Paes marriage story was fodder for the media for a long time. It is a story of three characters viz. an ace tennis player, a lost-in-oblivion Bollywood actress, and a former model who was married to a popular Bollywood actor. Let’s take a look at the tennis star’s love life.

Leander Paes marriage - Leander Paes

Leander Paes – The Rise Of The Indian Tennis Star

Leander Paes was born on 17th June, 1973, in Kolkata to Goan parents. His parents were both sportspersons, with his father being a part of Indian hockey team, while his mother was a professional basketball player. Leander showed keen interest in tennis, and in 1985 he joined the prestigious Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy in Chennai. His claim to fame came just five years later in 1990 when he won the Wimbledon Junior 1990 title and was subsequently ranked number one in the world junior tennis players’ rankings. Since then, Paes went on to represent India in numerous global sports events where he won several accolades for himself and the country. With all that success, came a lot of fame, and every now and then we hear tales of his love life and a possible Leander Paes marriage.

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The Leander Paes Marriage Story: When The Tennis Star Met The Bollywood Starlet

Leander Paes marriage - Mahima Chaudhary And Leander Paes

Around the turn of the century in 2000, Leander Paes was at the peak of his tennis career. By that time he was a popular tennis figure globally and was the poster boy of Indian tennis. In short, Paes was a celebrity, and therefore a common guest at several social events and parties. It is at one of such parties in Mumbai that he happened to bump into the then emerging Bollywood star Mahima Chaudhary. Mahima and Leander both had their upbringing in West Bengal, and thus the two struck a warm rapport right away. It is said that the two would cross paths at social events so often that they almost began to think that they were indeed made for each other. Their friendship soon blossomed into a full-fledged relationship and Leander and Mahima would be commonly spotted hand-in-hand at social events. Leander would also accompany Mahima to Bollywood events and parties. Things were definitely going strong between the two, with rumours of a wedding between Mahima Chaudhary and Leander Paes doing the rounds, until Leander happened to meet Mrs. Sanjay Dutt on an aeroplane.

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The Leander Paes Marriage Story: Dating Mrs. Dutt

Leander Paes marriage - Leander Paes And Rhea Pillai At Equation

It is said that Mahima Chaudhary got a whiff of Leander’s infidelity when she was mistaken to be Rhea Pillai, and was invited to Wimbledon. Much before that, a candid airline employee had shared with her that Leander had purchased a second ticket for a certain Rhea Pillai. She put the pieces together and figured out that Leander was indeed messing with her. Things became more defined when she caught Leander red-handed talking to Rhea on phone. Eventually, Mahima called off her relationship and the couple parted ways in late 2003. Leander had all the time in the world now to woo the former model Rhea Pillai. But this short-lived tale did not go on to a Leander Paes marriage. Or did it?!

Leander Paes met Rhea Pillai for the first time on a flight to Goa in 2003. The two struck a friendship right away, and Leander made it a point to ‘stay in touch.’ He did so without letting Mahima know and managed to for almost a year. Rhea Pillai at that time was still married to Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt and she was his second wife. Sanjay and Rhea’s marriage was going through a turbulent time though and maybe that’s why Rhea found solace in Leander.

Sanjay and Rhea separated in 2005, and Rhea packed her bags and went straight to Leander’s home. The couple were in a live-in relationship. Rhea Pillai and Sanjay eventually filed for divorce in 2005, which was granted in 2008. Paes and Pillai went on to have a daughter in 2006, in spite of Rhea still being legally married to Sanjay Dutt. Rhea and Leander’s daughter was named Aiyana. After Rhea’s formal divorce with Sanjay Dutt in 2008, it was expected that a Rhea Pillai Leander Paes marriage would happen, because of Aiyana. But contrary to the popular belief, the pair grew estranged and cracks in their relationship started appearing by 2013.

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The Leander Paes Marriage Story: Paes And Pillai’s Ugly Legal Battle

Leander Paes marriage - Leander Paes And Rhea Pillai Do A Session Together

It was reported by tabloids in early 2013 that the once doting couple have separated. While Rhea stayed tight-lipped about it, sources close to Leander shared that the reason for the split was Rhea’s ‘extravagant lifestyle.’ Interestingly, it was also one of the divorce reasons which Sanjay Dutt’s legal counsel had stated during filing of Rhea and Sanjay’s divorce years ago. The couple stayed quiet about it till late 2013, and it left everyone wondering who would have the custody of their only daughter.

While media was pondering about why the Rhea Pillai Leander Paes wedding didn’t take off, things took an ugly turn in early 2014, when Leander filed an appeal with a court for the legal custody of his daughter Aiyana. What followed was a record slew of allegations and counter-allegations. Right after Leander’s appeal, Rhea filed a domestic violence case against him, to which Leander retaliated with a court petition stating that Rhea had been an irresponsible mother with a volatile temper. He went as far as to allege that Rhea was having an affair with a certain cricketer. From 2013 to 2015, Paes and Pillai threw a string of allegations, which included legal ones, and those stated directly to media. But there was also tons of confusion in the court when it came to legal matters pertaining to this couple.

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Confusion About The Rhea Pillai Leander Paes Marriage

Legal counsels and courts were perplexed on several matters. The first thing was the nature of the relationship between Rhea Pillai and Leander Paes. Many close friends and associates stated that Rhea  Pillai Leander Paes marriage indeed went through before their daughter’s birth in 2006. Leander is said to have acknowledged the fact but pointed out that at that time Rhea was legally married to Sanjay Dutt thus making his marriage with Rhea null and void. Rhea had filed a ‘divorce’ case against Leander demanding alimony, in a blow to Leander’s legal party, as the live-in was accepted as the marital equivalent of a marriage.

After some initial confusion, the court acknowledged that while this was not a typical Miya-Biwi type case, since there is no specific law dealing with live-in relationship conflicts, the couple were in fact living as ‘man and wife’, even though not married to each other. However, it acknowledged the ‘domestic violence’ allegations against Paes, since the domestic violence act covers any aggrieved woman whether married or single, in a domestic relationship with a man. Paes went on to challenge it.

Things got even murkier last year when, in response to the court’s acknowledgement of domestic laws applying to this case. Leander allegedly said that “she could not be a party to the custody battle over their minor daughter”, apparently because no legal wedding took place. Leander has since gone on to say, “All live in relationships are not relationships in the nature of marriage”. Pillai’ s case is that Paes was harassing her mentally, and Leander was found guilty. While dismissing Leander Paes’ plea in domestic abuse case, Mumbai court told the tennis ace that ‘character assassination of Rhea Pillai itself is an act of domestic violence. Allegations made by the respondent, Paes, about Rhea’s character showed prima facie torture and harassment caused to her at the hands of the respondents — Paes and his father.” Talk about a can of worms.

Events Since Then

Leander Paes marriage - Leander Paes And Rhea Pillai With Daughter Aiyana

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But things were not as bad, when it came to their daughter, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2015. During their daughter Aiyana’s custody hearing in late 2015, a judge requested the estranged duo to reach a settlement out of the court first. Since the couple did not have an espoused relationship, the main point of dispute among them was the custody of their daughter. As of now, it is said that the couple have not reached any amicable resolution. In June 2016, the Mumbai High Court asked the couple to resolve their differences soon at least for the sake of their daughter. It is said that the couple is often spotted together while attending to any work pertaining to their daughter Aiyana. Like the court said, we hope Paes and Pillai resolve their conflict with some compromises on both sides, at least for the future of their daughter. Fingers crossed!

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