July 11, 2016
Yes, the singles gladiators steal nearly all the glory at Wimbledon. Some would say rightly so.
But don’t underestimate the pleasure given to the Wimbledon crowds by the magicians of the doubles.
For many you can’t beat the sheer joy of doubles tournaments. It starts with the sense of fun seen in the faces of the players.
Their positive body language. The way they interact with beaming smiles and mutual support. Soon that positivity infects the audience with acute enthusiasm. Suddenly we’ve all got the doubles bug!
Tennis stars and spectators are soon feeding off one another. The relationship between light-hearted and serious is strangely seductive.
The atmosphere becomes even more intimate as the shadows lengthen. It was one of the highlights of Wimbledon 2016 – as it always is and always will be.
The most recent and obvious example was British star Heather Watson’s mixed doubles triumph alongside Finland’s Henri Kontinen.
They defeated Robert Farah and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 7-6, 6-4. That win came just a few hours after Andy Murray’s heroics on the final Sunday of Wimbledon 2016.
And it was so refreshing to see Watson in raptures. She often looks trapped and weighed down by anxiety during her singles matches.
Instead she was clearly delighting in the gradual realisiation that she was cruising towards Wimbledon glory.
More than pure sporting endeavour was on show. There was the natural chemistry between vibrant Heather and the handsome, fresh-faced Henri.
That mutual appreciation was obvious to all Wimbledon spectators and added to the joy of the occasion.
It brought back memories of a similar chemistry between Jamie Murray and Jelena Jankovic. They won the same tournament back in 2007, back in the days before Andy Murray had won anything of note.
But it’s not just the mixed doubles that adds spice to any Wimbledon schedule. Take the Ladies Doubles Final of 2016.
How special it was to witness the Williams sisters gracing centre stage together and winning with a smile against Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova.
Everyone present knew they were watching a piece of history. We cherished those moments of public interaction between sisters whose love and support for each other has been a constant feature of their glittering careers.
Then there was the sheer beauty, the mesmerising skill and quick-fire fury of the 2016 Men’s Doubles Final.
That was equally memorable, as Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut defeated Julien Benneteau and Edourd Roger-Vasselin in a sophisticated all-French affair.
Now Mahut has another trophy to add to the one he was given to commemorate his part in the longest match Wimbledon has ever seen, the three-day slug-fest against John Isner.
Let’s not forget the wheelchair doubles, where the rallies are longer than anything you’ll find in wheelchair singles.
Britain’s Gordon Reid took the singles title at Wimbledon 2016 by beating Sweden’s Stefan Olsson 6-1, 6-4. But his men’s doubles triumph alongside Alfie Hewett brought just as much joy to the Wimbledon crowds, if not more.
The sight of Reid almost launching himself out of his chair to embrace his new doubles partner was one of the enduring images of Wimbledon 2016. Again, it’s that chemistry between partners which makes the doubles so special.
Court 17 saw Britain’s Jordanne Whiley and her partner Yul Kamiji of Japan become wheelchair women’s doubles champions in 2016. Their 6-2, 6-2 win over Dutch duo Aniek van Koot and Jiske Griffioen was breathtaking. Such agility and power!
What better example of an Anglo-Asian partnership bringing unqualified success? Sport can suddenly make the world seem a very intimate and happy place, for all the cultural differences between East and West.
There’s no doubt about it. Wimbledon just wouldn’t be the same without the doubles. Singles for drama, doubles for joy. It’s an unbeatable combination. Have you caught the doubles bug?