Tennis is a sport that has a long history of iconic sibling duos, from the Bryan brothers and the Williams sisters, to the Safins, the Pliskovas and, most recently, the Cerundolos.
Liam Broady and older sister Naomi Broady have long stood out as one of the few brother-sister pairs to have achieved success at the ATP and WTA Tour level. And though they are used to treading separate paths as they compete on their respective tours, the Broadys are revelling in the chance to catch up together at the Miami Open presented by Itau – a tournament that neither player was originally scheduled to compete in.
Liam, who currently sits at No. 158 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, hadn’t planned on a trip to the ATP Masters 1000 event, but he was able to make the qualifying draw following some withdrawals. That’s when he got a text from older sister Naomi, No. 155 in the WTA Rankings.
“Naomi messaged me whilst I was in Italy [for the Biella Challenger] asking if she could come and spend some time with me over here, because she’s going to Colombia [for the WTA 250 event in Bogota],” Liam told ATPTour.com. “She’s kind of been like my unofficial coach for the week.”
The arrangement has been a win-win for both siblings, as Liam arrived in Miami without regular coach David Sammel. And Naomi, who is not competing at the WTA 1000, will get to spend two weeks outside of the UK before heading down for tournaments in South America, adhering to COVID-19 protocols for international travel.
“It works really well… Obviously, through the time I’ve spent on Tour, I know as a player what kind of help you need around your matches,” said Naomi, who has previously achieved a career-high ranking of No. 76. “Just little things I can do to help him so he can just focus on his matches."
While the siblings now compete independently and criss-cross the globe on the ATP and WTA Tours, tennis has always been the thing that has brought them together. Naomi and Liam are the middle pair out of four siblings, and they took to tennis when their father introduced them to the sport when they were seven and four, respectively.
“I think Dad made a lot of mistakes with me that he then corrected with Liam. They often say the Olympians are the younger siblings,” Naomi joked. “So I maybe walked the path a bit before him, learning from mistakes as he was slightly younger.”
One of the highlights of having a sibling in professional tennis is getting to share the big on-court moments with someone who understands the experience. For Liam and Naomi, that moment came in 2017, when the Stockport-born siblings made their mixed doubles debut at Wimbledon.
“It was definitely fun, especially the match we won,” Liam said of their run to the second round. “We played on Court 18, which is a pretty big court. It was a lot of fun.”
“I remember Liam telling me at the net with hand signals where he wanted me to serve, and I remember saying, ‘I don’t know what that means.’ That got the crowd laughing,” Naomi added. “Everyone had a few Pimms by then, so it was a really fun atmosphere.”
The Broady siblings teamed up again this week in Miami, where qualifier Liam reached the main draw of an ATP Masters 1000 for the second time in his career. Coached by Naomi, the 27-year-old took down Juncheng Shang and Federico Gaio before falling in the first round to Miomir Kecmanovic, 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-1. It continues the momentum he built up from a run to the final at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Biella earlier this month.
“You have an inside knowledge about what’s going on,” Liam said of working with Naomi. “I think it’s a very particular profession to be in, and not many people really understand the sort of things that we go through.
“When times are tough, you can speak to each other about what’s going wrong and what’s going right and give each other advice on that.”