Exclusive Interview: Olympic Tennis Champions, Bob and Mike Bryan Visit Oakley World Headquarters
Twin brothers. Tennis teammates. Olympic Champions. Americans Bob and Mike Bryan have emerged as the most successful tennis doubles pair of all time and at 35-years-old, they are having their most successful season yet. They began their year winning the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, which they consider their greatest career accomplishment. Since then, there’s been no stopping these boys. They’ve won every Grand Slam title since, including the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and they will be going for the “Calendar Slam” as they attempt to win another US Open this August in New York. And perhaps the most impressive stat of all, if you date back past the 2012 Olympics, the Bryan Brothers won the 2012 US Open, the Olympic gold medal, and then the previously discussed Grand Slam titles, completing what is known as the “Golden Slam.” The Bryan Brothers became the first men’s doubles team in Open-era history to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously, along with the Olympic gold medal. Add in the all-time doubles title record and about a million other stats and you’ve only begun to graze the surface of all that goes into the greatness of the Bryan Brothers.
During a recent stop in Orange County, California for an exhibition match, the boys stopped by for a visit at Oakley Headquarters and we sat down to chat about their amazing careers, winning Olympic gold, plans for the future, life beyond tennis, Bob’s daughter Micaela’s cult twitter following and much, much more. You won’t want to miss what Bob and Mike Bryan had to say. Enjoy!
Oakley: Let’s just get right into it. Let’s talk about this season. It’s been an unreal season for you guys. You’ve practically won all there is to win. Tell us about it.
Bryan Brothers: It’s probably been the best season of our career, which is kind of weird at 35. Usually guys start trailing it off at that age. This has been crazy. To have nine titles at the halfway point in the season has been amazing. I mean, three Grand Slams this year and to hold all four at one time is nothing we ever really dreamed of.
I think it all started when we won the gold medal. We were just so pumped and happy. At that point, that was our greatest achievement. Since then, we’ve been playing happy and have just gone on a good run.
Oakley: Speaking of the [2012 London Games] Olympic gold medal…what was that like? We’re sure nothing can compare.
Bryan Brothers: I think we were in a state of shock when we won the gold medal. There were no tears, we were just kind of white. We didn’t understand what had happened. We were working so hard and just putting one foot in front of the other. And then BAM, you win it and you have the gold on the podium and you’re just looking around, feeling a little dizzy.
It didn’t really settle in until about two weeks later when we were in Cincinnati. We were driving to the courts and we just both started screaming, “I CAN’T BELIEVE WE DID IT!” It was a funny moment because it took that long to really register what we had done. By far though, winning that gold medal was the greatest thing we’ve ever done. It kind of transcends the whole sport of tennis.
Oakley: And since then, you’ve won all of the Grand Slams. The US Open is still to come for the potential “Calendar Year Slam.” What’s the mindset going for that achievement?
Bryan Brothers: That would be cool! To have all four at one time is pretty sweet. We’re just trying to enjoy that as long as possible. But the US Open is coming in eight weeks and everyone is now shifting their focus to that. We’re going to welcome the pressure and obviously go after the “Calendar Year Slam.” This is the time to do it. I don’t know if we’re going to have another shot at it. I think you only get one golden opportunity to do it. So, it’s our home slam, we have all the fan support, we’ve won it four times and we’ve played great over there, so we’re going to try and compete for that. Then we can probably shut down the year [laughs].
Oakley: You guys probably get asked this non-stop, but how much of your success can be attributed to being twin brothers? Does being so in sync as twins have a lot to do with how well you play?
Bryan Brothers: Yeah, for sure. Being twins has definitely been big for our success. Half of doubles is communication and we have the ultimate communication, being twins. We spend all this time together, playing thousands of matches together and we just flow well on the court. I know what he’s thinking. He knows where I’m going to hit the ball. So, just having that confidence that we’re never going to give up on each other is really big, because a lot of guys are looking over there shoulders when their having a rough patch. The loyalty we have as twins adds to our consistency and our confidence.
Oakley: As far as tournaments go, as we’ve discussed earlier, you’ve won basically everything there is to win. Do you have a favorite tournament or surface? What suits you the best?
Bryan Brothers: I mean, we’ve had the most success at the Australian Open. We’ve been in the finals nine times out of the last ten years and we’ve won it 6 times. It’s the first Grand Slam of the year, we’re in a great mood, we’re coming off of the off-season.
We grew up playing on the hard court our whole lives so that’s been our most successful. We love Melbourne. The Aussie fans really appreciate doubles and we really appreciate playing in that Rod Laver Arena.
But then every Grand Slam has its own character. Wimbledon has the history. You get goose bumps just going out on Centre Court. It’s been there since the 1800’s. It’s pretty special to play there.
French Open has probably been the toughest one for us to win. It was our first Grand Slam, but we took a ten-year break in between 2003 and this year. So it was great to get back there.
Oakley: Switching gears, beyond tennis: we see you both with your families at all the events. What is the “non-tennis” side of the Bryan Brothers like?
Bob Bryan: For me [Bob], it is all about the family. Going to the parks, taking long walks with the baby and teaching her how to do different things. She’s walking, she’s running all over the house now. She’s taking the microphone in our living room now and trying to sing. She loves music. Everytime you turn on music, she’s dances and loves going to the beach.
Oakley: Soon she’ll be sending her own tweets!
Bob Bryan: Yeah and she’s got that Twitter account, it’s pretty funny. She’s got like 11,000 followers!
Author’s note: Check it out here, it’s pretty awesome: Micaela Bryan’s Twitter
And then music is also our big passion. We’re always jammin’ on our instruments, always making up songs whenever we have a chance. We’d love to get some more songs recorded in the next year.
Oakley: Looking forward, are there still goals to achieve? Or have you passed all of those goals in your career accomplishments?
Bryan Brothers: Well, right now it’s trying to get that “Calendar Slam.” But long term, it’s just trying to get as much out of our bodies as possible. We want to try and play another three to four years and make it to Rio (2016 Olympic Games) and go out with a medal. We’ll be 38 at that time so it would be a great spot to shut down our careers and ride off into the sunset. So we’re just trying to stay healthy and have fun and try and win some more!