A wonderful two weeks of Wimbledon, and the fortnight is over. After winning her 22nd major singles championship yesterday, Serena Williams is in my opinion the greatest player — man or woman — in the history of the game. Andy Murray played a clean, focused, smart final today to win his second Wimbledon.
So why am I writing about doubles?
I don’t think about doubles a whole lot except when major championships are played. Personally, I’ve avoided doubles. As a gay man who has glacially built his self esteem over the years, doubles is not my cup of tea. I was captain of a team for a local United States Tennis Association league in Baltimore, but I never put myself in the lineup for doubles. I don’t like to let people down, and most of my partners in doubles have been straight men with great serves. I much prefer to grind it out on my own from the baseline!
But watching professional doubles is a different story. Yesterday my man Nicolas Mahut and his partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert and the Williams sisters won the men’s and women’s doubles tiles, respectively. Their agility, court coverage, and instinctiveness about when to hit the right shot is astonishing. Serena won her 14th major championship in women’s doubles. Very early in her career, she also won two mixed doubles titles, so she now has a total of 38 major championships. Given the level of competition in the Open era, she has surpassed to my mind Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Margaret Court, Roger Federer, even Rod Laver as the greatest ever.
The last match of Wimbledon is the mixed doubles final. Heather Watson of Britain and Henri Kontinen of Finland may not be household names, but they are now holders of a Wimbledon trophy. The beauty of doubles on the professional tour is that it gives players like Heather and Henri a chance to make a living. Legends like Serena and Venus, Roger, and Martina Hingis are versatile, all-round players, but they never have to worry about making a living on the pro circuit. Their doubles titles are almost like icing on the cake. Were it not for doubles, though, we might never get to watch Nicolas, Pierre-Hugues, Henri or Heather.
This blog began the first day of Wimbledon. I’d like to try to keep it going at least a year. Tomorrow may be a bit of a letdown, but given the wonderful responses I’ve received these past few weeks, I’d like to keep going! I owe it to my daughter.