Serena and Venus Williams, Agassi and McEnroe… these tennis legends who teamed up in doubles

Rivals become partners “. This is the slogan with which the Laver Cup appeared in 2017. A concept that immediately hit the mark, with the public fond of associations between legends of the game, as evidenced by the 2017 and 2018 editions of this competition created by Roger Federer. The Swiss had teamed up in doubles with his great rival Rafael Nadal the first year, then with Novak Djokovic the second. This year the resonance is even higher, Federer preparing to play his last doubles match with Nadal. But we didn’t have to wait for the Laver Cup to see illustrious champions join forces, for a few tournaments for some, over the longer term for others.

Serena and Venus Williams in their last match together, at the 2022 US Open. (Presse Sports/Presse Sports)

It is one of the most iconic pairs of doubles in tennis history. While they faced each other in many legendary battles, the Williams sisters regularly shared the court in doubles. Often successfully. Together, the two Americans won fourteen Grand Slam titles, including six at Wimbledon, as well as three Olympic gold medals. Proof of their longevity, seventeen years separate their first Major title (Roland-Garros 1999) from the last, at Wimbledon in 2016.

This domination on the two circuits caused particular situations to be managed for the two women: in 2002 and 2008 at Wimbledon and in 2003 at the Australian Open, Serena and Venus won the doubles together on Friday evening… before challenge themselves in the singles final the next day. Result: two wins to one for Serena. The Williams last teamed up in early September at the US Open, losing in the first round for the final tournament of Serena’s career.

Before becoming a TV consultant, John McEnroe played doubles with André Agassi (POCHAT / L'Équipe)

Before becoming a TV consultant, John McEnroe played doubles with André Agassi (POCHAT / L’Équipe)

These two big names in American tennis, although from two different generations, took advantage of their six years together on the circuit to play a few doubles tournaments. As he embarked in 1992, in the last year of his career (despite two episodic returns in 1994 and 2006), McEnroe lined up in doubles alongside a young rising star, André Agassi.

The explosive left-hander, on the decline, acts as a mentor. ” I don’t know why, but we get on well.” declares “Johnny Mac” before his only meeting in Major against his younger brother, in the semi-final of Wimbledon 1992, won by Agassi. The 20-year-old “The Las Vegas Kid” lost his first three Grand Slam finals when he lined up with McEnroe at the 1991 San Francisco tournament. Kevin Curren does not discourage the two men. The following year, the American pair reached the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros and then the final in Toronto. History has it that Patrick Galbraith and Danie Visser prevented Agassi and McEnroe from winning a tournament side by side…

Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King at their Wimbledon title in 1979. (readingpublicmuseum.org/readingpublicmuseum.org)

Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King at their Wimbledon title in 1979. (readingpublicmuseum.org/readingpublicmuseum.org)

98 Grand Slam titles (singles, doubles and mixed doubles combined) between them: Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King are two tennis monuments. Queen of the circuit in the 60s and 70s (with Margaret Court), King saw her successor, Martina Navratilova, land in a cannonball, who took power in the 80s.

If they only faced each other once in a Grand Slam, at Wimbledon in 1980, with a victory for the Czech, the two women teamed up during the last years of Billie Jean King’s career and formed a formidable pair of doubles. . Navratilova and King won 21 tournaments together, including three Grand Slam titles (US Open 1978 and 1980, Wimbledon 1979) and two Masters (1978 and 1980).

Before being associated around the Laver Cup, Björn Borg and Rod Laver played together in doubles.  (Sports Press)

Before being associated around the Laver Cup, Björn Borg and Rod Laver played together in doubles. (Sports Press)

This association between two of the greatest players in the history of tennis is little known. However, Björn Borg and Rod Laver played together three times in 1975. Then 37 years old and close to retirement (which he will take four years later), “Rocket” Rod Laver decides to team up with Borg, star rising of the little yellow ball, already winner of two Roland-Garros at only 19 years old.

Both men contest the American summer tour, losing entry in Toronto before reaching the quarter-finals in Boston. Their collaboration ends at the US Open. The legendary duo lost in the third round to Australians Phil Dent and William Lloyd, after defeating a pair of Arthur Ashe, another monument of the game, and Dennis Ralston. Chance of fate, Borg and Laver are opposed in the round of 16 of the singles table. The Swede won in four sets in Rod Laver’s last match at the US Open.

Jimmy Connors and Ilie Nastase have played four Wimbledons side by side.  (PHILIPPOT SERGE/The Team)

Jimmy Connors and Ilie Nastase have played four Wimbledons side by side. (PHILIPPOT SERGE/The Team)

Jimmy Connors was far from the most popular player in the locker room. Known for his arrogance and his hot temper, the record holder of the ATP circuit titles (109 trophies) nevertheless had some friends on the circuit, including Ilie Nastase. Among the American’s most legendary rivals, the names that stand out first are often Borg, McEnroe or Lendl.

Still, Connors and Nastase have faced off on 27 occasions, with the Romanian dominating the matchups with 15 wins for 12 losses. But at the same time, the two men regularly teamed up between 1973 and 1976, winning nine titles together, including Wimbledon in 1973 and the US Open in 1975 in addition to a final at Roland-Garros.

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