Doubles does not get the love that singles does when it comes to professional tennis, but there are still quite a few people who pay attention to everything. It can be very exciting, especially in the Grand Slams, and players can make a pretty good living in doubles as well.
Who are the seven best tennis doubles players of all time? While doubles was played before 1976, this is when the ATP officially started keeping rankings for doubles. Four men players stand out from the rest statistically, while three women (including an inseparable pair) have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack.
Best Men’s Doubles Players
The number one ranking in doubles fluctuates quite a bit, with only six players ever having more than 100 weeks at the number one ranking. The four below are all over 200 weeks, including the initial pair that has established dominance in recent years.
1. Mike Bryan
- Grand Slams – Men’s Doubles: 18
- Grand Slams – Mixed Doubles: 4
- Career Titles: 124
It is hard to make a pick between the two Bryan brothers, as they usually are playing together more often than not. However, Mike Bryan has had a slightly more successful career, and it shows with the number of weeks at number one in the world. He holds the record at 506 weeks, including a consecutive streak that reached 163 weeks.
In total, he has 124 career double titles and a total of 18 Grand Slams. His partnership with Jack Sock allowed him to push past his brother in total numbers, but the two have always been pretty adamant about sharing the limelight.
2. Bob Bryan
- Grand Slams – Men’s Doubles: 16
- Grand Slams – Mixed Doubles: 7
- Career Titles: 119
As a doubles player, Bob Bryan has 23 Grand Slam titles. Sixteen of those came in men’s doubles, while he has also picked up seven in mixed doubles. He has been able to have a ton of success with his brother Mike, but some hip injuries have held him back in more recent years.
What is the main difference between the two brothers? The biggest difference is the fact that Bob plays left-handed, while Mike is the right-hander in the group. They were able to make this work very successfully in balancing out the courts and keeping opponents off guard.
His 119 doubles titles and 439 weeks as a number one doubles player in the world is certainly nothing to look over. Perhaps Mike surpassed him statistically, but they really should share the title as the best doubles player ever collectively.
3. Todd Woodbridge
- Grand Slams – Men’s Doubles: 16
- Grand Slams – Mixed Doubles 6
- Career Titles: 83
Although Todd Woodbridge made a run to the semifinals as a singles player at the 1997 Championships at Wimbledon, the Australian will forever be known as a talented doubles player.
Whether it was working with Marc Woodforde or Jonas Bjorkman, he has 16 Grand Slams in men’s doubles, and another six in mixed doubles. With a gold medal from the 1996 Olympics also to his name, he’s one of the most decorated doubles players ever.
Woodbridge found success on all surfaces, but Wimbledon was the place where he truly excelled. He won a total of nine titles at Wimbledon, including four in a row from 1993 to 1996, and three in a row from 2002 to 2004.
4. John McEnroe
- Grand Slams – Men’s Doubles: 9
- Grand Slams – Mixed Doubles: 1
- Career Titles: 78
Most people know John McEnroe as a very successful singles player, but he was one of the best doubles players of all time also. He had a game perfectly crafted to have success in doubles, and although he did not have a partner the entire time, he won with several different combinations.
McEnroe finished his career with 78 doubles titles, and nine Grand Slam doubles titles. He is by far the most successful player in tennis history when looking at things from a singles and doubles perspective. Most of the top players do not bother with doubles, but it was clear that he enjoyed that type of play throughout his career.
Peter Fleming was his most successful partnership as a doubles player, as they won a total of seven Grand Slam titles together. He also won Grand slam titles with Mark Woodforde and Michael Stitch, while mixing in a mixed doubles French Open title with Mary Carrillo.
Best Women’s Doubles Players
Just like with men, some women specialize in doubles. However, there are players at the top who have had success in both. It seems like talented women players can switch over a little easier, and some of the greats have done exactly that.
1. Martina Navratilova
- Grand Slams – Women’s Doubles: 31
- Grand Slams – Mixed Doubles: 10
- Career Titles: 177
Much like John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova will always be remembered for the success of her singles. However, she also just might happen to be the best doubles player in tennis history. Another left-hander who could play a variety of styles, she partnered with many throughout her career to win 31 major women’s titles, along with 10 additional major mixed doubles titles.
Maybe the most shocking thing about Navratilova’s career was the fact that she won all four Grand Slam doubles titles a minimum of seven times. This included 1984, when she won all four in the same calendar year. She also completed the career Grand Slam in mixed doubles, finally reaching that pinnacle when she picked up the 2003 title at the Australian Open.
When partnering with Pam Shriver, they went on a record 109-match winning streak that spanned three years. Having the ability to play at a very high-level until the mid-2000s shows just how physically in shape she was during her career.
2. Serena & Venus Williams
- Grand Slams – Women’s Doubles: 14
Technically speaking, this might be cheating a bit, but the two sisters deserve recognition for what they have been able to accomplish. Yes, even as just part-time doubles players. They certainly do not have the numbers that other doubles players have as far as rankings are concerned, but when they take Grand Slams seriously, they are the toughest matchup for teams out there.
In total, the two sisters have 14 Grand Slam doubles titles throughout their career. This is mostly done with at least one of the two players also making a deep run in the singles side of it.
Their chemistry is part of the equation, but they also hit extremely hard when going up against most opponents. They collectively have the size to cover the court very well, which creates a matchup nightmare for most opponents. Since they rarely play doubles without working with each other, they deserve a collective mention to round this list out.
3. Liezel Huber
- Grand Slams – Women’s Doubles: 5
- Grand Slams – Mixed Doubles: 2
- Career Titles: 53
It is pretty hard to not have the South African born doubles player as one of the best to ever play the sport. Whether she was partnering up with Cara Black or Lisa Raymond, she was able to have success for a very long time. Retiring in 2017, she finished her career with 53 WTA doubles titles, five total Grand Slam doubles championships, and the ability to show the players can have success as doubles specialists.
While she is not going to match some of the other players with Grand Slam titles, her longevity in the sport is one thing that puts her at the top of this list. It is also a lot more challenging than many people realize to have so much success with two different partners. Most of the time, players begin to slow down when they pick someone new to work with.