5 Greatest Doubles pairs in Tennis

Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza
Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza

Conventionally doubles and mixed doubles draw lesser crowds and offer lower prize money vis-a-vis singles competitions but that doesn't mean that the competition is not stiff or there is lack of talent in the doubles game. US Open was the first Grand Slam to hold the Men's Doubles event in 1881 and Wimbledon followed in 1884.

In 1889, US Open conducted the very first Women's Doubles Championship and Wimbledon did the same in 1913. Mike Bryan holds the record for the most Grand Slam Doubles titles won by Men in any era with 18. Martina Navratilova holds the record for the most Grand Slam Doubles titles won across eras and including men and women with 31 titles. Margaret Court with 21 Mixed Doubles titles is the all-time record holder. India's Leander Paes with 8 Grand Slam Doubles titles is the most successful Asian tennis athlete in Doubles. We jog down memory lane and look at five of the greatest doubles pairings of all time:

#5 Natasha Zvereva and Gigi Fernandez

Natasha Zvereva and Gigi Fernandez
Natasha Zvereva and Gigi Fernandez

Belarusian Natasha Zvereva and American Gigi Fernandez tasted stupendous success in the Doubles field but they also excelled in singles too. Natasha Zvereva was a runner-up in Roland Garros in the year 1998 and she also was a semi-finalist in Wimbledon that year. Gigi Fernandez's best Grand Slam singles result was a semi-final appearance at Wimbledon in 1994.

But they will be remembered for being serial Grand Slam winners in doubles. The duo won 14 Grand Slam Doubles titles across all 4 Grand Slam events between 1993-1997. After winning the Wimbledon Doubles title in 1993, they were holders of all 4 Grand Slam Doubles titles. Their contribution to Women's tennis earned them a place in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the year 2010.

#4 Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan

American twins Bob and Mike popularly known as the 'Bryan Brothers' are the most successful doubles pair of all-time. They have won more Grand Slams Doubles titles and more overall Doubles titles than any other duo in tennis. The Bryan twins have been World Number 1 for a record 438 weeks including 139 consecutive weeks.

The Bryan twins though similar in appearance, vary in their style of play which compliments their doubles game perfectly. The right-handed Mike is ruthless at the net while his twin brother Bob is known for his powerful left-handed serve. The duo has over a 1000 match wins and is the only men's pairing to hold all 4 Grand Slams and the Olympic Gold Medal at the same time.

The Bryans have tasted success in Mixed Doubles too with Bob winning 7 titles and Mike winning 4 titles. The duo has won an astounding 16 Doubles titles and 4 Tour Finals titles. Mike's injury in 2018 meant that Bob formed a partnership with fellow American Jack Sock and added two more Grand Slam Doubles titles to his collection at the 2018 Wimbledon and 2018 US Open at the age of 40. The Bryans longevity in sport is truly astounding to say the least and one wouldn't bet against the duo winning more titles in the years to come.

#3 Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver

Pam Shriver and Martina Navratilova
Pam Shriver and Martina Navratilova

Considered by many to be the most complete player of all-time, Czech born American Martina Navratilova re-wrote the history books in the 1980's with her groundbreaking success. Navratilova inspired thousands of girls to take up tennis and continues to inspire generations of young players even now. She is the only tennis player in history male or female to have held the World Number 1 ranking in singles and doubles for over 200 weeks. Navratilova is one of only 3 tennis players to have won all 4 Grand Slams across singles, doubles and mixed doubles combined.

Navratilova initially tasted doubles success with famed rivals Chris Evert and Billie Jean King but her rise to dizzying heights in the doubles game took shape in 1981 when she paired up with fellow American Pam Shriver. In an 8 year period, the duo won an astounding 21 Doubles Grand Slam titles and in 1984 made a complete sweep by winning all 4 Grand Slam Doubles titles.

Navratilova was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000 and even after her induction she would go and win titles in mixed doubles. Pam Shriver was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.

#2 Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde

Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge
Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge

Popularly known as 'Woodies', Aussie duo of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde dominated the Men's Doubles game in the 1990's prior to the ascent of the Bryan twins. The duo paired up in 1991 and established a successful partnership winning 11 Grand Slam Doubles titles together in a 9-year span.

The duo completed the Career Golden Slam at the 1996 Atalanta Olympic Games where they took the Gold Medal. Woodforde, the left-hander was a solid baseline player and Woodbridge's swift reflexes at the net was the perfect recipe for doubles success yielding a record 6 Wimbledon Doubles titles. The Woodies also won Silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. The duo was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010.

After Woodforde retired in 2005, Woodbridge forged a successful partnership with Swede Jonas Bjorkman and won 5 more Grand Slam Doubles titles before retiring in the year 2005. The Woodies were also successful in winning all Mixed Doubles titles with their respective partners.

#1 John McEnroe and Patrick Fleming

John McEnroe and Patrick Fleming
John McEnroe and Patrick Fleming

The biggest compliment that a Doubles player can ever get was one which Patrick Fleming gave to John McEnroe when he remarked -the finest doubles pairing in men’s tennis was β€œJohn McEnroe plus one”. McEnroe has also described Fleming as the perfect doubles partner.

Just like the Woodies and the Bryan twins, McEnroe and Fleming complimented their games perfectly. Fleming with his big service game and McEnroe with his slick volleys across the net ensured the perfect combination of smooth coordination.

The duo dominated Men's Doubles in the late 1970's and early 1980's winning 4 Wimbledon Majors and 3 US Open Doubles titles. Their contribution helped the USA win 4 successive Davis Cup tournaments between 1979 and 1982.

Edited by Kishan Prasad


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