The Bryan twins, Mike and Bob, won the Wimbledon Tennis Doubles Championship Saturday. They now hold every Grand Slam Doubles title simultaneously, plus the Olympic Gold Medal won in London in 2012.
Mike and Bob Bryan have been winning at doubles since they won a 10 and under tournament when they were 6. At 35 they have won 91 professional events and the NCAA title when they were at Stanford. They own 15 Grand Slam Doubles titles. They have to be considered the greatest doubles team in the history of the sport.
The Bryan twins are not just twins, they are rare “mirror image” twins who have opposite features. One is right handed the other left, which is a significant advantage in covering a doubles court. Only 1% of live births are monozygotic twins (identical) and only 25% of those are “mirror”–opposite feature twins.
The Bryans come from a tennis family. Mother, Kathy, was a tour pro for several years and father, Wayne, teaches tennis and practices law. When Mike and Bob were kids their parents forbade them from playing each other in tournaments. They alternated forfeiting to one another when they met in junior tournaments.
The Bryans’ trademark is a jumping chest bump to celebrate a victory or a well played shot. They usually bump fists after both made and missed shots. They give off a wonderful vibe of caring and positivity on the court.
Chest bumping violates the norms of pro tennis, though court celebration is hardly forbidden. Personally, I love the habits of mutual positive reinforcement the Bryans exhibit. I think that in many business relationships the fist bump, either physically or metaphorically, is neglected. Business-as-usual indifference among teammates can be death to energy and creativity on the court or in the shop. Sometimes it may seem forced, but the habits of encouragement never get old.
In professional tennis, doubles teams change like “musical chairs.” It is unusual for teammates to last three years together. The team the Bryans beat this year in the Wimbledon finals had been together for a year.
Naturally, the Bryans get peeved with one another at times. After a first round Wimbledon win in 2006, the brothers got into a fist fight in their rented apartment in London. While Mike had retreated to the bathroom, Bob smashed his cherished guitar. But afterward, they worked out their spat, going on to win Wimbledon for the first time.
Tennis is the Bryan family business. They have a rare and incredibly successful partnership that has flourished more than 25 years. They have made twinship and brotherhood into a huge asset. It’s fun to watch them on the court because their bond is genuine, seasoned and practiced. They are not only great doubles players, but also extremely loyal to one another, from all appearances.
Having had my doubles team in business with my brother recently break up after 40 years, I salute the Bryan brothers and their parents. What they have accomplished is a singular achievement by two remarkable siblings.
Questions: Do any sports celebrations offend you?
Do you have any rituals to celebrate victory in your job or business?
Lloyd Graff is chief space filler of Today’s Machining World and Graff-Pinkert & Co.