Serena Williams' Best Possible Doubles Partners Not Named Venus
They have won three Olympic gold medals in doubles. They say they want to play in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. But based on Venus' sparse and spotty playing schedule, their run appears to be over.
On May 1, Venus withdrew from the Madrid Open. With her older sister rarely available, perhaps Serena should consider partnering with other players.
A temperamental sort, Serena would probably play better with someone she likes or admires. It would help if he or she had doubles experience and embraced an aggressive playing style. With that criteria in mind, here are the best possible doubles partners for Serena not named Venus.
John Isner once publicly lobbied to be Serena's doubles partner. He was interested in playing with Williams in mixed doubles at the 2012 Olympics. Isner joked that he might have to bribe her to get ahead of her childhood friend Andy Roddick and the Bryan brothers.
Quoted via The Associated Press, Serena stated that, "Obviously, the Bryans are like the world's best doubles players. Andy and I are super, super close. Personally, I love John. You're not going to break the guy. It's an automatic I don't know how many games."
Isner has played with her big sister, Venus. The two had a successful run at the 2013 Hopman Cup. They were scheduled to play in the semifinals before Isner had to withdraw with a knee injury.
It would be tough for opponents to win points off either of their serves.
Coco Vandeweghe makes the list because Serena suggested they play doubles together. She made the request during their post-match handshake at the Sony Open in Miami.
Perhaps impressed by Vandeweghe's booming serve and 6'1" stature, Williams thought the young American would be a nice stand-in for sister Venus.
Vandeweghe told the Miami Herald, “Serena said she wanted to play doubles with me...I think I have to get through Venus first to be able to play doubles with Serena."
However, Paes has a history of volatile relationships with his partners. His long-time doubles partner, Mahesh Bhupathi, refused to play with him in the Olympics. Right now, Paes is in a heated custody battle with the mother of his daughter. He is suing for sole custody and claims the woman is an unfit mother.
Hmm, Paes and Serena? On paper, a winning pair. But two divas on one doubles team could prove tricky.
She was only 16 when she won her first Grand Slam trophy, the 1998 Wimbledon mixed doubles title with Mirnyi. They would go on to win the U.S. Open the same year.
When asked about their chemistry on the court, Mirnyi said they never argued and were supportive of each other. "Always staying positive and just sticking up for each other. Because when I do something, she's always there for me saying that, 'It's all right, we'll get the next point.' I try to do the same for her."
Mirnyi, 36, continues to play doubles, picking up different partners here and there. Perhaps it's not too late to consider a reunion with Serena.
Victoria Azarenka and Serena could rack up Grand Slam doubles titles. Both have won titles partnering with Mirnyi in mixed doubles. Azarenka and Mirnyi also won the gold medal in mixed doubles at the 2012 Olympics, beating Murray and Robson in the final.
Helping matters, Azarenka and Williams have bonded off the court and become good friends.
Serena and Bob Bryan teamed up at the 2012 French Open. They were ousted in the first round, 7-5, 3-6, 10-6, by Gisela Dulko and Eduardo Schwank. It was the same year Serena had the infamous first-round exit in singles, her first time losing in the first round of a Grand Slam.
The two should consider teaming up again. Both have played with siblings and understand doubles dynamics. Partnering for the first time, they still almost managed to pull off that match.
The Bryan Brothers have 15 Grand Slam doubles titles and one career Golden Slam. The Williams sisters have 13 Slams and one career Golden Slam.
That's a combined 28 Grand Slam doubles titles.
Childhood friends, Andy Roddick and Serena have often talked about playing mixed doubles. In 2012, Roddick's last year on the tour, the two considered joining forces for the Olympics.
Roddick was quoted in the New York Times saying that playing doubles with Serena was on his tennis bucket list. “I think it will be fun...I want to be sure to do over the next couple years some of the things that I’ve always wanted to but haven’t been able to do. Serena and I have been friends for a really long time.”
It never happened. Now that he's retired, he could come back as the other half of an amazing mixed doubles team.
Roger Federer and Serena as a doubles pair is as close to tennis royalty as you can get. How amazing it would be to see two of the best tactically sound players of all time on the same side of the court?
The intimidation factor alone would get them through a few rounds.
This year, Serena considered asking Federer to play mixed doubles with her at the Australian Open. Winning a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles is a lofty goal; she figures teaming up with Federer is probably the best way to get it.