Jun 1, 2021

  • D’Arcy MaineESPN.com

Between all the upsets, potential upsets and media obligations controversy early in the French Open, it’s understandable if you missed Sunday’s announcement that Venus Williams and Coco Gauff are teaming up to play doubles at the tournament.

Wednesday’s first-round match will be the first time playing together for the 40-year-old Williams, who has won seven singles and 14 doubles titles at majors over her storied career, and the 17-year-old Gauff, a rising star on the WTA Tour and coming off of wins in singles and doubles at Parma. And while they haven’t been on the same side of the net before, they have squared off twice — with Gauff winning both matches.

This also marks the first major doubles draw in which Williams will play with anyone other than her sister Serena, and the first for Gauff without her longtime partner and friend Caty McNally, who withdrew due to injury. Still, even the most ardent Williams Sisters or #McCoco fans probably have to admit this new duo is pretty exciting.

Before you start coming up with a clever nickname for the pair, let’s look back at some of our favorite recent doubles and mixed doubles teams, when two stars unexpectedly joined forces.

Serena Williams and Andy Murray, 2019 Wimbledon

Need we say more? Just look at these two names. With 26 major singles titles combined, the two were dubbed “Serandy” and became must-see tennis at the All England Club, even playing twice on Center Court — a rarity for early-round mixed doubles. The duo was eliminated in the Round of 16 but remains the gold standard for star power in mixed doubles pairings.

Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic, 2018 and 2019 Hopman Cup

The Swiss stars have paired up multiple times at the Hopman Cup over the years and won it together in 2018 and 2019. While it would be even more fun to see the duo join forces at a Slam or the upcoming Olympics, their partnership has yielded a ton of entertaining moments over the years — including during the one and only match in which Federer faced Serena Williams (with partner Frances Tiafoe).

Ashleigh Barty and CoCo Vandeweghe, 2019 US Open

It’s no surprise that the No. 1 player in the world has her choice to play with just about anyone in doubles — and Barty very much has over the past few years. She made the 2019 US Open final with Victoria Azarenka and is currently playing with reigning Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady. But her partnership with Vandeweghe, the 2017 US Open semifinalist, was the most fruitful. The pair won the 2018 US Open, the first major title for either, and the notoriously intense players celebrated every victory by doing the floss on court and then dissolving into fits of laughter.

Flossing their way into the semis!@CoCoVandey 💃💃 @ashbar96#USOpen pic.twitter.com/gajFDnTVVh

— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 4, 2018

Sloane Stephens and Eugenie Bouchard, 2018

Let’s get this out of the way now: This isn’t the most successful pairing you’ll be reading about here, and they lost in the first round of their only major doubles appearance together at the 2018 Australian Open. But they did make the final of the 2017 Citi Open and the quarters of the 2018 Rogers Cup in Bouchard’s hometown of Montreal.

And frankly, the combination of two former top-10 players who remain some of the best known and most social media savvy players on tour is just too good not to mention. The pair trained together as preteens in Florida, and their friendship is always on display when they take the court together, or post about it later.

Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2018

This is another one that falls into the “better in name value” category. These two superstars (and prank-pulling friends) teamed up twice in the summer of 2018 in Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati. They didn’t win a match at either event but still filled seats and kept the crowd more than entertained. While it’s a hard sell to get any of the top male singles contenders to play doubles at a major due to the best-of-five-sets being exhausting and all, we can only dream one day these two will pair up in front of an adoring crowd in Melbourne.

Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, 2020 Auckland

This also wasn’t in a Slam, but we couldn’t leave this pairing out. After Wozniacki had announced she would be retiring after the 2020 Australian Open, the longtime friends decided they needed to team up one time before her career was over. They did just that in Auckland, and despite having never played on the same side of the net before (they had met 11 times in singles), the besties made it all the way to the final. Even though they lost in the title match, the two clearly loved playing together.

“I think my only regret in tennis is that we didn’t do this earlier because I’ve had such a blast,” Wozniacki said during the on-court trophy presentation.

Andy Murray and Jamie Murray

These brothers might not seem like an unlikely doubles pair but due to Andy’s success in singles, they haven’t had that many opportunities to team up over the years. They’ve still won two titles together (in 2010 and 2011) and most recently paired up at the Citi Open in 2019, where they lost in the quarterfinals. It was their first time playing as a team in three years, and it made their mom Judy nostalgic.

Washington @CitiOpen doubles team……… 💞@ATP_Tour pic.twitter.com/EOztrzbPMJ

— judy murray (@JudyMurray) July 24, 2019

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Iga Swiatek, 2021 French Open

Much like the Venus Williams-Coco Gauff pairing, with two stars representing different generations, Mattek-Sands and Swiatek are 16 years apart and both bonafide winners. Mattek-Sands has five major doubles titles and Swiatek is the reigning French Open singles champion.

Even with the age gap, these two have plenty of fun. During their first tournament together, the Miami Open in March, the two shared dozens of videos and inside jokes from their practice sessions on social media. Their chemistry translated in matches as they advanced all the way to the semifinals.

Now playing in the third tournament together, these two could do some serious damage.

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