At Stanford, when they were assigned to different dormitories as freshmen, Bob set up a mattress on the floor of Mike’s room and slept there instead. Long into adulthood, they shared a bank account. They still speak or text multiple times a day even though Bob, his wife, Michelle, and three young children are based in Hallandale Beach, Fla., and Mike and his wife, Nadia, and their infant son now live in Camarillo.
“We’re still best friends, and we just have a stronger connection now than ever,” Mike said. “You know how tough it can be as brothers to get along all the time. And we made it work for so long in high-pressure situations, eating every meal together, spending every practice together.
“For a lot of people that gets pretty stale, but we kept our marriage strong. We needed a little therapy here and there, but in the end it worked out, and looking back at our longevity, that’s something we can be very proud of, that we did it day in and day out together.”
Going out together was important, too. The plan for 2020 was to play a farewell tour, and then retire after the United States Open.
But the coronavirus pandemic disrupted that plan, halting play on the men’s tour for five months. The twins did play in World Team Tennis in late July and early August, but when it was confirmed that the U.S. Open would be played without spectators, they decided to retire rather than take part.
“We weren’t in this last year to just play the matches and to get points or to make money,” Bob said. “It was to really say our thank-yous to everybody and feel the atmosphere one last time. The crowds — that’s what make the U.S. Open magical in our minds. We really applaud the U.S. Open for getting going, and all the work they’ve put in to give tennis back to the fans on TV and to give players opportunities to compete again and make money. But it just wasn’t right for us.”
The Bryans once thought they would retire after the 2012 Olympics in London, where they won the last significant title they lacked, and they stopped playing together abruptly in 2018 when Bob badly injured his hip and elected to have hip resurfacing surgery. Mike continued on that year with a new partner, the American Jack Sock, and won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open: giving him a total of 18 Grand Slam men’s doubles titles, two more than his brother.