Wimbledon 2016: Serena and Venus Williams, Mahut and Herbert share the love
Serena and Venus Williams win a record sixth Wimbledon doubles title after victory over Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova
Not content with filling two of the four semi-final singles places at this year’s Wimbledon, the mighty Williams sisters doubled up—more than once playing twice in one day during this rain-troubled Championships—to dominate in the doubles, too.
Before today, the two had won 13 Grand Slam doubles titles—five of them at Wimbledon—and they had never lost a final. Even on the wider tour, they had played 22 doubles finals together and lost only one, way back at the start in 1999.
Perhaps the Williams’ history should have prepared Centre Court and their opponents for what would happen in the final, because every time either Venus or Serena has won the singles title, one of them has also gone on to win doubles—with their sister, of course.
We love it, we love playing doubles, we love being together
But at Wimbledon, the sisters Williams have been more impregnable than at any other: Venus has won five singles titles there, and went on to win doubles in 2000 and 2008. With her victory today over Angelique Kerber, Serena won seven singles titles, and went on to win doubles in 2002, 2009, 2012—and now this year, too.
Objective observers may have detected an opportunity for their opponents, not just because the Williams had pulled so many double duties deep into the second week but also because they had not played together since the US Open in 2014. They even lost in the first round on their return in Rome this year, and lost in the fourth round at Roland Garros.
But Wimbledon is a different animal, a place where the duo has accumulated a 45-2 win-loss record in 11 doubles appearances. Then there is their Olympic record: doubles champions in 2000, 2008 and right here in London in 2012.
And it is with another doubles gold in mind that they have thrown their resources together this summer: They want gold in Rio—and Serena is favourite to defend her singles gold there as well. But first things first: Who stood in the way of a sixth Wimbledon title?
The No5 seeds Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova certainly had grass credentials. Babos was runner-up in doubles at Wimbledon in 2014 while Shvedova won in 2010. They had, though, not played together until 2013, and this was their first final together at Grand Slam level.
The experience of the Williams quickly proved to be irresistible, however, as they exuded a real joy in sharing this court together once more. They broke in the eighth game, and Venus served out the first set, 6-3.
The second set followed the same familiar path, with the one break allowing the Williams to serve out the set and match, 6-4. And that moved them into second place on the Open era list of Major doubles champions: Only Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, with 20, have won more.
Serena said of the victory:
“It was really special to be out there again… to win Wimbledon in doubles. We love it, we love playing doubles, we love being together.
“For me, it’s unbelievable. It’s a feat even I couldn’t have thought would have happened. It’s amazing.”
How did she recover for one final so soon after the other?
“I had just enough time to change and get the ankles re-taped. It was fine. I didn’t want to warm down.”
She had fitted in her post-Championship media obligations, taken her ovation on the All England Club’s balcony, and was back ready to play by the time the popular French men’s duo, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, had won their second Major title together.
The top seeds and reigning champions at the US Open beat compatriots Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 6-4, 7-6(1), 6-3, in just over two hours of dazzling tennis in front of an appreciative Centre Court crowd.
Mahut, who has enjoyed late-career success on grass in singles too—he arrived here with the ‘s-Hertogenbosch title—was reduced to tears by the victory.
“I’ve said ever since I started playing tennis that Wimbledon is the greatest tournament. When you win the match point in the final, you just realise that you’re going to have your name written on the trophy and everywhere. Being the champions here is a dream come true.
“We are good friends. We play together, so we stay together… Because we like each other, we like to spend time on the court and off the court, this is something we don’t even think about changing.”
The two men faced each other in the singles draw in the third round here, too, with the 34-year-old Mahut beating 25-year-old Herbert, but playing together, they look more like father and son than contemporaries. And maybe that is why they gel so well—just like the Williams.