The incredible comeback of Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova culminated with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over No.3 seeds Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens in the Wimbledon ladies' doubles final on Sunday.
Unseeded this fortnight, Hsieh and Strycova triumphed under a closed roof on Centre Court to win their second Wimbledon trophy as a team. They had previously paired up to win the event in 2019.
Both Hsieh and Strycova returned to Hologic WTA Tour action this April after lengthy absences. Prior to that, Strycova had been off the tour for over two years, which included giving birth to son Vincent in the fall of 2021. Hsieh had missed the entirety of the 2022 season as well.
Just three months later, the long-time doubles partners and friends became Wimbledon champions once again.
"It's crazy," Strycova said in the champions' post-match press conference. "Actually, I don't believe it still, but it's real, right? It was a dream of mine."
"Not expecting [the title], but nothing could be better than this," Hsieh added.
Experience comes out on top!— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 16, 2023
37-year-olds Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova are the Ladies’ Doubles champions after coming past Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens in the final#Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/MsOxrNipIT
Veteran excellence: In a championship final which featured three players who have been ranked WTA Doubles World No.1 (Hsieh, Strycova and Mertens), Hsieh and Strycova took 1 hour and 51 minutes to hold off Hunter and Mertens and capture the trophy.
Hsieh and Strycova, both 37 years old, are the oldest doubles pair by combined age (74) to reach a Grand Slam doubles final, let alone win the title. They overtake 35-year-old Liezel Huber and 38-year-old Lisa Raymond, who had a combined age of 73 when they won the 2011 US Open.
Strycova ends an era: For new mom Strycova, this fortnight’s title caps a stellar career at SW19, as this will be her last appearance at Wimbledon as an active player. Along with her two doubles titles, the Czech also posted her career-best Grand Slam singles result at Wimbledon when she reached the 2019 semifinals.
"It's a great fairy tale because it's my last Wimbledon playing ever, so I couldn't ask for a better finish," Strycova said. "I am so, so, so, so happy.
"Last year I texted Su-wei, 'Let's try to play Wimbledon 2023 just to come back and feel the atmosphere.' ... She was like, 'Yeah, let's do that. Let's just have fun.' Here we are with the trophy. It's crazy. It's really crazy."
Hsieh's immediate form: Hsieh’s 2023 comeback to Grand Slam doubles has been wildly fruitful thus far. At this year’s Roland Garros, her first Grand Slam event since 2021, Hsieh teamed up with Wang Xinyu and promptly won the title, also unseeded. Hsieh has now won her last 12 Grand Slam women’s doubles matches in a row.
"I didn't expect too much [coming back], I think that helps a lot," Hsieh said. "I like to use the freedom on court. I'm, like, a freestyle player. I set my plan very clear, clean. I do it. I enjoy. All the different plans, I try to work out plans to where I go, where they go. Really works well."
Hsieh has collected six Grand Slam women’s doubles titles in her career, with four of the six coming at Wimbledon. Along with the titles mentioned above, she also paired with Mertens to win 2021 Wimbledon, and she teamed with Peng Shuai to triumph at 2013 Wimbledon and 2014 Roland Garros.
Two tight sets: In Sunday's final, Hunter and Mertens came back from 0-40 and triple set point down at 5-4 in the opening frame, with Mertens using sturdy serves to rebound and hold on for 5-5. However, another long game at 6-5 went Hsieh and Strycova’s way, as they converted their sixth set point overall to eke out the one-set lead.
Hsieh and Strycova let a 4-1 lead in the second set slide back to 4-4, but powerful overheads by Strycova at 5-4 gave her squad two championship points. On their second opportunity, a Hsieh winner closed out the victory, and they finished the tournament with the loss of only one set in their six wins.