Rather than play against, this article picks the top five women I’d like to play mixed doubles with, otherwise it may be too reminiscent of the battle of the sexes between Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King. Presently I would prefer to play singles but with the advent of time this choice may change. I have chosen the five on differing criteria and bot necessarily with whom I think we’d have the best choice of winning. Some are icons of the game and some slightly less known but all great tennis players, past or present. I have always chosen to play on the advantage side of the court for doubles, men’s or mixed, but I would be willing to make a change for the left handed players if that’s what they wanted. Here’s my choice:
Probably the greatest female doubles player of all time as nobody came close to her achievements and records. A lefty with a solid serve and volley game but also no mean player from the baseline. Her experience and craftiness would carry pretty much any other doubles partner and I would have to really take a back seat when playing with her. She has won 10 mixed doubles grand slam titles, 31 women’s doubles grand slam titles and 177 doubles titles in all. What an achievement!.
I probably wouldn’t play that well with Daniela Hantuchova because I’d probably be too busy looking at her than at the tennis ball. In my opinion, by far the prettiest female tennis player on the WTA tour and very tall to boot. With both of us at net, our opponents would find it difficult to lob us. Nicknamed “the legs from Slovakia”, Hantuchova has a career grand slam in mixed doubles having won all four starting with Wimbledon in 2001 and ending with the US Open in 2005. Her women’s doubles record isn’t too shabby either reaching the Australian Open final on two occasions. I had my chance to ask her to play with me when I met her at the US Open in 2014 but I’m afraid I bottled it. There’s always the next time.
Okay, so she’s way better at singles than doubles and that is clearly illustrated in her tournament results to date. I would pick Simona, Romanian, as I think we’d get along quite well. It would also please my wife, Lavinia, who comes from the same city as Halep in Romania; that being Constanta on the Black Sea coast. She has played mixed doubles in the past with Horia Tecau so she is no stranger to the game and all it’s intricacies. She is an aggressive baseliner in style of play much more comfortable plonked in and around the back of the court. I guess I’d have to play net which suits me anyway. Her serve can be erratic and occasionally lets her down but she is no quitter and would never give up on any ball or point.
Another doubles specialist who has had a lot of success recently in women’s doubles alongside Martina Hingis. She has won 3 mixed doubles grand slam titles with Wimbledon being to only one to evade her. Similarly in women’s doubles not having crossed the line at Roland Garros. Like Hantuchova, a pretty girl, who has reached world number one in the WTA women’s doubles rankings in April 2015 and she is still there. A strong all court player who isn’t afraid of the net; she can play in any position. She loves to hit the ball as hard as she can. She comes from India and turned professional in 2003. No stranger to a little controversy in her playing career as she is strong willed; I think we’d get along just fine.
For my last choice I again have picked someone who I think I’d get along quite well with. Caroline Wozniaki always has a smile when out on court and I imagine would be fun to play alongside. Not famed for her doubles results she is clearly first and foremost a singles player and former world number one, surprisingly enough never having won a grand slam title of any description. She really is destined to be always the bridesmaid and never quite the bride. Another player not hard on the eye, she was once engaged to previous golf world number one, Rory McIlroy. Great speed around the court and fabulous consistency but lacks a weapon that may have seen her win a grand slam in the past. No matter the result, I’m sure we’d have some fun out on the court.