Just three months after their comeback to professional tennis, Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova have picked back up right where they left off. The unseeded duo stormed through the Wimbledon draw to capture the title in a tightly-contested 7-5 6-4 victory over No. 3 Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens.
Along the way, they defeated a wide range of formidable opponents including No. 13 Miyu Kato/Aldila Sutjiadi in the Round of 16, the dangerous unseeded pairing of Caroline Garcia/Luisa Stefani in the quarterfinals, and Marie Bouzkova/Sara Sorribes-Tormo in the semi-finals.
For the pair of 37-year-old veterans, this marked their second Wimbledon title and ninth career doubles title together.
Hsieh has now won Wimbledon four times with three different partners – 2013 (Peng Shuai), 2019 (Barbora Strycova), 2021 (Elise Mertens), and 2023 (Strycova). Additionally, she accomplished the Wimbledon “three-peat” by winning her last three consecutive attempts in 2019, 2021, and 2023, posting an unblemished 18-0 record since 2018.
Given the circumstances, however, this title was perhaps the most meaningful. Strycova gave birth to her son Vincent in October 2021 and has since taken time off tour for the last 18 months. When she returned to her first tournament at the Madrid Open, she announced that 2023 would be a farewell tour and this would be her final Wimbledon to compete as a professional. Hsieh also took time away from the tour in 2022 and the first half of 2023 to heal her body from a nagging hamstring injury.
It’s a great fairy tale because it’s my last Wimbledon playing ever, so I couldn’t ask for a better finish. 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.Barbora Strycova, in an interview with WTA staff at wtatennis.com
The Hsieh Su-wei Effect
On court, Hsieh has often been compared to a spider spinning its web or a magician working her magic. As you would expect in a grand slam final, Hsieh Su-wei put her magic on full display at Centre Court in front of a delighted crowd.
Her unorthodox game style with flat groundstrokes, a myriad of unique shots and spins, effortless hands at the net, and a high tennis IQ make her a tricky matchup for any opponent on the singles or doubles court. Against the hard-hitting duo of Mertens and Hunter, Hsieh’s ability to defuse and redirect pace was the difference maker.
During numerous groundstroke exchanges, Hsieh waited patiently at the baseline before hitting the ball exactly where she wanted to at the precise right moment. After one of Hsieh’s best points in the match, she even raised her hand for a classic finger wag acknowledging how incredible of a shot she just hit.
I didn’t expect too much [coming back], I think that helps a lot. 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 Su-wei in an interview with WTA staff at wtatennis.com
Hsieh’s steadiness and craftiness complemented Strycova’s fiery aggression well, who waited eagerly at the net for the right opportunity to cross. Strycova’s overheads were exceptional throughout the match, slamming ball after ball followed by energetic fist pumps and encouraging looks to her box.
It was a masterclass doubles performance from the veteran pair in what was likely their last Wimbledon campaign together.
Hsieh Channels the “Channel Slam”
Even more impressive than her 4th Wimbledon victory? Hsieh also won the French Open title earlier this summer with a different partner in her first grand slam since coming back on tour. With her back-to-back Roland Garros and Wimbledon titles, Hsieh became the first player in 20 years to win the “Channel Slam” in Paris and London since Kim Clijsters and Ai Sugiyama accomplished the same feat in 2003.
She and partner Xinyu Wang defeated No. 10 seeds Leylah Fernandez/Taylor Townsend 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 in a dramatic final on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Along the way, they knocked out a string of impressive opponents that included five consecutive seeded teams:
- No. 9 Kristina Mladenovic/Shuai Zhang
- No. 5 Desirae Krawcyzk/Demi Schuurs
- No. 15 Veronika Kudermetova/Ludmila Samsonova
- No. 6 Nicole Melichar-Martinez/Ellen Perez
- No. 10 Leylah Fernandez/Taylor Townsend
The win marked Hsieh’s 2nd Roland Garros title since winning in 2014 with Peng Shuai. Hsieh is now a perfect 12-0 in grand slam action in 2023, winning both majors she has played in.
Does Hsieh Make a Case for the Hall of Fame?
After her Wimbledon victory, many rumblings from Hsieh Su-wei fans echoed across Twitter… does this seal the deal for her ballot into the International Tennis Hall of Fame?
Hsieh’s HOF-worthy accomplishments include:
- No.1 ranking
- Six grand slam titles
- 32 career WTA titles
- WTA Tour Finals champion in 2013
- 66% career win percentage in doubles
Among active WTA players, she is tied at No. 3 with Kristina Mladenovic for the most women’s doubles grand slam titles behind Venus Williams (14) and the No. 1 Czech team of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (7).
For singles players, winning one or two slams has typically proved to be the minimum threshold for nomination and induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. For doubles players, unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
American Lisa Raymond, who won 11 total grand slams in women’s doubles (6) and mixed doubles (5), has been nominated to the ITHOF on three separate occasions but has yet to get inducted.
Whether or not Hsieh gets voted into the Hall of Fame one day, let’s appreciate all she has given to tennis with her one-of-a-kind game style and quirky, likable personality. Tennis fans tend to disagree on just about everything these days, but one thing we can all agree on is there’s no one quite like Hsieh Su-wei.