Mahesh Bhupathi is a ladies man. He qualifies for arguably being one of the best mixed doubles players in the world. On June 7th, his 38th birthday, he claimed his 12th Grand Slam trophy when he won the French Open mixed doubles title with compatriot Sania Mirza.
The Indian duo knocked out the Polish-Mexcian combine of Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Santiago Gonzalez 7-6 (3), 6-1. This was the third time that Sania and Hesh, as Bhupathi is known among friends and fans, reached a Grand Slam final together. They won the 2009 Australia Open and had ended as runners-up at the same tournament in 2008.
Mahesh Bhupathi was the first Indian to win a Grand Slam tournament when he took the French Open Mixed Doubles title in 1997. He was 23 years old. Now, at 38, he has 12 Grand Slam trophies on his shelf. With his victory at the Australian Open Mixed Doubles in 2006, he joined the elite group of eight tennis players who have achieved a Career Mixed Doubles Grand Slam.
Born on June 7, 1974 in Chennai, Bhupathi studied at the University of Mississippi in the United States. A promising tennis player, he turned pro at 21 in 1995. In 1999, he grabbed three doubles titles with Leander Paes including Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Bhupathi and Paes became the first doubles team to reach finals of all four Grand Slams. They became the world's number one doubles team. Bhupathi also won the US Open mixed doubles with Ai Sugiyama of Japan.
Bhupathi has delivered some amazing performances in a career spanning more than a decade. For a long time, he teamed up with Leander Paes to dominate the Men's Doubles circuit. He has won quite a few singles titles too.
Personally, Hesh lost his single status in 2002 when he married model Shvetha Jaishankar. That marriage lasted seven years and the couple split in 2009. Last year, he married former Miss Universe and actor Lara Dutta in a civil ceremony in Mumbai followed by some spectacular celebrations in Goa.
2012 began with a win for Hesh; wife Lara gave birth to their daughter Saira.
Hesh's first marriage broke up in much publicised acrimony. But the relationship that has really played out in public is the one that he has shared with India's other tennis ace, Leander Paes. Once called the "Indian Express" for being unstoppable, the two have loved and they have hated for the world to see. Unfortunately, at the cost of some superb tennis.
Before the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Bhupathi wrote to the Indian Tennis Association stating that he did not want to play with Paes as he was better prepared with Rohan Bopanna. The AITA shot down his demand and asked the duo to ensure that their differences did not hurt India's medal chances. They joined hands for the Olympics and advanced to the quarterfinals where they were beaten by Switzerland's Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka.
In 2011, Bhupathi reunited with Paes once again for the 2011 Australian Open. The team reached the final, but lost to Bob and Mike Bryan. From 1995 to 2006, Bhupathi played 46 matches for India in the Davis Cup and won 28 of them. In the 2006 Asian Games, he won the championship with Paes in Doha.
Mahesh Bhupathi was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India's highest civilian awards, in 2001.
Lara and Bhupathi have started a film production company - Big Daddy Productions in 2010. He has also launched an e-commerce venture offering sports and fitness goods including sports equipment, accessories, footwear and apparel.