Career Grand Slam complete for Bryan brothers

The United States isn't going home completely empty-handed from Wimbledon. Whit Sheppard writes about the Bryan brothers completing the career Grand Slam.

Updated: July 9, 2006, 9:04 AM ET
By Whit Sheppard | Special to ESPN.com

WIMBLEDON, England -- "We saved the biggest one for last," said Mike Bryan, after he and his brother Bob achieved a milestone victory on Wimbledon's Centre Court that Justine Henin-Hardenne failed to accomplish earlier Saturday in the women's final.

Shortly after Amélie Mauresmo thwarted Henin-Hardenne's bid to become the 10th woman to win all four majors, the top-seeded Americans completed the career Grand Slam with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over No. 6 seeds Fabrice Santoro and Nenad Zimonjic in the men's doubles final.

Today's win rounds out the twins' trophy case nicely, adding to earlier titles at the French Open (2003), the U.S. Open (2005) and the Australian Open (2006).

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan
Daniel Berehulak/Getty ImagesBob Bryan and Mike Bryan have won three of the last four Grand Slam doubles finals en route to completing the career Grand Slam.

The 28-year-old Californians, who just bought a house in Florida, were making their seventh consecutive appearance in a major final, extending their Open Era record, and have now won three out of the last four Grand Slam doubles finals.

Bob Bryan's workday wasn't finished after the win, as he had just a 45-minute break before returning to Centre Court, where he lost in the mixed doubles final with his partner, Venus Williams, to the team of Andy Ram and Vera Zvonareva.

"I'd love him to put some furniture in our house, too," said Mike Bryan, the older of the identical twins by two minutes. "There's money on the line. Gotta furnish that puppy."

The £220,690 ($408,500) the Bryans earned for their win today ought to help out, too, and fund a good trip or two to Ikea as well.

With Bob Bryan otherwise detained, it was left to Mike Bryan to explain just how much today's win meant to the two.

"This is the one we've dreamed about our whole lives," Bryan said. "We've been thinking about this career Slam since we won the U.S. Open and the Australian back-to-back. This was the last one to get."

U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe, also an ESPN analyst, had this to say about the twins' win: "They weren't a perfect team so both worked on their weaknesses and got better. Bob's volleying has improved and so has Mike's serve. I'm excited for them."

The Bryans went after Santoro's serve with relish, breaking the Frenchman to go up 5-4 in the third set before going up two sets to one, and then again in the seventh game of the fourth set. They were helped by two errant volleys in the fourth set from the normally reliable Zimonjic, one to grab a crucial early break and another to go up 5-2.

"We got kind of lucky," said Bryan. "Nenad missed a couple volleys that he usually wouldn't miss. We just made him play and scrambled and won a couple of reflex points.

"Once we got that break, our energy went way up through the roof. We could just smell that Wimbledon title and we went hard at the end."

Mike Bryan served for the Championship and the pair closed out the match at love when Zimonjic hit a return wide on their first match point. Rather than exchange their customary chest-bump at the end, Mike Bryan slowly walked to his brother and leapt in his arms.

"I told Bob, right when I hugged him, 'We got 'em all, man, we got 'em all.' It's the best feeling in the world," Mike said. "If someone would have said when we started out that you're gonna have all four Grand Slam titles by the time your career is over, I would have said you're a pathological liar.

"It's so hard to win one. To have all four, it's pretty cool. Especially to share it with your twin brother."

Mike Bryan's looking forward to being able to come up with a different answer to a question he often gets.

"People say, 'Have you guys won Wimbledon?' They don't say, 'Have you won the U.S. Open?' I hate saying, 'Yeah, lost in the finals.' It's gonna be pretty sweet to say we're Wimbledon champions."

Whit Sheppard is a Paris-based sportswriter who is covering Wimbledon for ESPN.com. He can be e-mailed at lobsandvolleys@yahoo.com.