photo : tennis world
Siblings at the top of professional sports are a rarity. When thinking of iconic siblings who reached the highest level in the same sport there are few who come to mind. The Dufour-Lapointe sisters, the Manning brothers, and the Esposito brothers are some examples.
Still rare but more often there are siblings who excel in separate sports or play the same sport with different levels of success. In tennis, the McEnroe brothers, John and Patrick, were both incredible players but only one made it to the very top. Before the 21st century, they and the Sanchez family were arguably the best siblings in tennis.
Cue the entrance of Serena and Venus Williams.
The Williams Sisters
Serena and Venus reached heights never attained by siblings. They are the first, and only, siblings to be ranked world No. 1 and win multiple grand slam titles in both singles and doubles.
Combined they have, 30 grand slam titles, 122 overall titles, and 330 weeks ranked No. 1 in singles. They also both ranked in the year-end top 10 in 10 different seasons (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, & 2015).
Together they have 14 grand slam titles, 3 Olympic gold medals, and 8 weeks ranked No. 1 in doubles. Although, only 8 weeks at No. 1 is mostly because they did not consistently play doubles throughout the year. They won all 14 major finals and lost only one final in their doubles career. Even when they weren’t the top-ranked team, they were the team to beat in every tournament they entered.
All these accolades are in the past, but their careers are not over. They can still add to their long list of accomplishments. Both Serena and Venus were recently announced as wild cards for the National Bank Open.
It’s difficult to argue that there are siblings that will go down in history as better than the Williams sisters in any sport, let alone in tennis. Although there aren’t any that can live up to the impossible standard set by the sisters, there are some great tennis siblings that have played during the same era.
The Bryan Brothers
Bob and Mike Bryan may not measure up when looking at singles statistics, but they surpass the Williams sisters’ accomplishments in doubles.
The identical twin brothers together have 16 grand slams titles, 5 year-end championships, 39 masters 1000s, an Olympic gold medal, and 438 weeks at world No. 1. That is more weeks at No. 1 than any doubles or singles player, male or female, in history.
In addition, Mike Bryan has two grand slam titles with Jack Sock and a record total of 506 weeks at the top of the rankings. The next closest players are the retired Steffi Graf who held the top spot in women’s singles for 377 weeks, and Novak Djokovic who has 373 weeks in men’s singles with the possibility to add more.
They may not be quite as popular as the Williams sisters; however, together with them, they defined the golden era of tennis siblings.
Pliskova, Murray, Radwanska, Safin & Safina
Rounding out the golden era of tennis siblings are the Pliskova sisters, Murray brothers, Radwanska sisters, and the brother-sister duo of Safin and Safina.
Like the Bryan brothers, Krystina and Karolina Pliskova are also identical twins. They have won 3 low-level WTA titles alongside one another, and Karolina briefly reached No. 1 in singles in July of 2017.
Andy and Jamie Murray played a few tournaments as partners at the beginning of their careers. They won two ATP 500 events back in 2010 and 2011, before they both went on the reach No. 1 in singles and doubles, respectively. In 2016, Jamie won the Australian & US Open doubles and spent 9 weeks at No. 1. That same year Andy won the Wimbledon singles trophy for his third major title and spent 41 weeks at No. 1 into 2017.
Agnieszka and Urszula Radwanska won one doubles title together at the Istanbul cup in 2007. Neither player has won a grand slam or reached No. 1 in singles or doubles. Urszula has a career-high ranking of 29 in singles while Agnieszka reached No. 2 after losing to Serena in her only major final at Wimbledon in 2012.
Last but not least are Marat Safin and Dinara Safina. They played mixed doubles together only once at the Hopman Cup in 2009. Though they were never a formidable doubles team, they each reached the top in singles. Marat won two major titles (2000 US Open & 2005 Australian Open) and spent 9 weeks at No. 1. Dinara spent 26 weeks at No. 1, made three major finals, and is said to be one of the best players never to have won a grand slam.