Barbora Strycova could not stop crying. It was Sunday morning, just hours before the Wimbledon doubles final. Win or lose, it would be Strycova's final match of her career at the All England Club.
Wimbledon was always Strycova's favorite tournament. As a junior No.1, Strycova had her greatest success on the hard courts at the Australian Open, winning back-to-back girls' titles in 2002 and 2003.
But her greatest professional triumphs had come on Centre Court. It was the Slam at which she made her major debut in 2003. Her first Slam quarterfinal came there in 2014. And then there was her storybook 2019, where she made her first Slam semifinal in singles and then went on to win her first Slam doubles title with Hsieh Su-Wei.
Four years later, she was back in the doubles final with Hsieh. She was now a mom, to her son Vincent, who had come out of retirement in April to play through one final season and say goodbye.
"My emotions are crazy," Strycova told WTA Insider. "I can't believe it but it's true. I couldn't ask for a better last match, right?
"Finals? Win? Trophy? It's crazy!"
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
As Hsieh and Strycova defeated No.3 seeds Elise Mertens and Storm Hunter to win their second Wimbledon title, Little Vincent was cheering along from a nearby house with Grandma.
"I had a rollercoaster of emotions during these two weeks," Strycova said. "Today, in the morning, I was crying like crazy. Every half hour I cried, I was so emotional.
"But I stepped on the court and I was really focused. I was in beast mode."
With the win, Strycova and Hsieh captured their 10th team title and, for both, their 32nd individual doubles title overall.
"It was last year that I told her that I want to come back and play Wimbledon to just feel great," Strycova said. "She said, 'Why not?'
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"We went with the flow and the vibe. Because we already experienced 2019, we know how it feels, we know how to do it. It's like déjà vu. The feeling came together. I think it helped a lot."
"When we won match point it was pure joy, pure happiness. During the speech, I didn't want to make such a long speech because I was losing it and I didn't want to cry. I thought I handled it well."
Strycova returned to the tour in April at the Mutua Madrid Open and, reunited with Hsieh, she immediately succeeded. But the 37-year-old Czech insists her results will not change her decision to retire after the US Open.
When asked whether she would play the WTA Finals with Hsieh if they qualified, Strycova paused.
"It was a fun final and I enjoyed every minute of it," she said. "But it's also a challenge for me with my son. It's my decision, and I feel it's the right one."