Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, otherwise known as the Bryan Brothers, added another Wimbledon men’s doubles title to their remarkable career legacy this past weekend. But this third title for the pair at the All-England Club also earned them a very rare feat – one never achieved in the Open Era and very likely never to be achieved by anyone else.
The Bryans now hold in their current possession all four Grand Slam titles – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. Having won the Olympic gold medal last summer, the Bryans have completed a “Golden Slam”, or as some are calling it a “Golden Bryan Slam”. And if the Bryans repeat as champions of New York, they will complete a rare calendar Grand Slam for this season and will be the first team to do so in the Open Era. Not bad for a pair of guys in their mid-30’s that many thought had achieved everything there was in their chosen field and, now with new families, might have thought about slowing down. Instead it is their lives off court that has made them realize that not every loss is the end of the world allowing them to playing with more fun and vigor than ever before.
You hear that doubles teams of the world? The Bryans still love what they do. Even more now.
The Bryans have become so dominant and so good at what they do, we just expect them to win every event that they enter. That’s an unfair expectation. But when you have finished the season as the No. 1 team in the world eight times, including last year, then you can see why the Bryans continue to be the team to beat no matter where they go.
An even more remarkable feat considering how doubles teams are constantly breaking up in favor of new partners in hopes of doing better the next year. New combinations and new teams keep coming up for the Bryans to face. And more often than not, it is the Bryans celebrating yet another win with their now trademark flying chest bump. Which, by the way, is something I would not recommend you or your friend to try and repeat on a tennis court somewhere unless you and your friend want to end up with a concussion.
After winning 91 career titles, the Bryans have mastered the flying chest bump into an art form they alone master. But the Bryans are more than just great tennis players. They are also ambassadors for a part of the sport that often gets too little recognition at the highest levels.
Doubles, despite being played by most recreational players over singles, still gets second billing on the pro tour. While those competing solo often play to packed houses around the world, doubles teams are often forced to play either first in the morning or last in the evening to nearly empty seats. In their 15 years on tour, the Bryans have probably won more matches in arenas filled with less than a 100 people than the nearly packed Centre Court where they once again tasted Grand Slam glory this weekend.
Though top singles stars are still the main attraction each week, the Bryans themselves have become headliners in their own way over the last few years as their legend continues to grow. In the United States, especially where fans are still searching for the next man to take over Andy Roddick’s mantle as the top American, the Bryans often find themselves just as big a draw whenever they play. At the upcoming ATP event in Atlanta, they will share top billing with John Isner on the marquee. In previous years, many came to watch the Bryans because they were twin brothers who were really good at doubles. That curiosity by some may have peaked their interest in finding out more about the sport. Now, fans flock to witness the Bryans in action, not because they are a novelty, but because they are the greatest doubles team ever to compete.
What is next for the Bryans, especially if they do complete a calendar Grand Slam later this year? More glory including trying to qualify for another Olympics in 2016.
“It’s hard to even dream that we’d have the slam, all four at one time,” said Mike Bryan about their Wimbledon win. “It all started back after we won the gold. It just felt like a huge pressure was released. Went on to win the Open and had a great summer. This year we’ve been on an amazing tear. Never had a streak like this. Especially at 35, I feel like we’re hitting our peak.”
If the Bryans are truly at their peak, then we can likely look forward to many more celebratory chest bumps from this dynamic doubles duo.