Since the 1990s, tennis in Zimbabwe has been on the rise. As a result, several local representatives have played at the most famous events on the sports calendar over the past few decades. Despite siblings Byron Black and Cara Black enjoying title-winning success on the doubles circuit, neither could turn that form into singles triumphs throughout their careers. So, let’s look into Zimbabwe’s doubles history and consider if singles success is on the horizon.
Reaching the Heights at Wimbledon
Few can argue that Wimbledon isn’t one of the most iconic competitions on the tennis calendar. For many players, including Cara Black, the grassy surface has been a happy hunting ground. She, however, isn’t alone in relishing the chance to play in London, with Roger Federer striving to win his ninth title at the event. As of June 2nd, the Swiss player is 15/2 in Wimbledon odds 2021 at Paddy Power to lift the trophy, which is something that no Zimbabwe representative has done on the singles stage. The 39-year-old will be one of many players that Wimbledon tips will back to win the competition.
Although the Black family couldn’t achieve title-winning success at Wimbledon like Federer, they did dominate the doubles competition for many years in London. Cara Black, who turned professional in 1998, won three Wimbledon doubles titles between 2004 and 2007. In 2007, the Salisbury-born right-hander won her final Wimbledon crown, and she did so with Liezel Huber as the number-one ranked partnership.
Cara Black’s brother, Byron, also came close to winning a Wimbledon doubles title, although he and Grant Connell lost in the 1996 final against Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge. Wayne Black, meanwhile, lifted the 2004 Mixed Doubles Wimbledon trophy with his sister, Cara, as they defeated Alicia Molik and Woodbridge.
Byron Black Offered Hope
Despite the Black family’s reign of doubles dominance throughout the early-2000s, none of the three siblings could turn their pairs success into singles triumphs. In 2000, Pete Sampras lifted his seventh title, overcoming Pat Rafter in the final. The tournament was significant for tennis in Zimbabwe, with Byron Black reaching the quarter-finals before losing in straight sets to Vladimir Voltchkov. The 51-year-old failed to surpass the last eight of a Grand Slam throughout his 21-year professional career, but he did match the feat at the 1995 US Open.
Aside from Byron Black, Andrew Pattison also came close to reaching the pinnacle of the singles stage. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Pretoria-born right-hander played in numerous Grand Slams, with his best result coming in the 1975 US Open, where he reached the quarter-finals. At Wimbledon, Pattison failed to replicate that feat, suffering elimination at the third round on five occasions.
Who Can Go That Step Further?
Currently, Zimbabwe has few active tennis players, meaning that singles success may not be imminent. However, whoever steps up to the plate over the coming years will go down in history. While the country is no stranger to winning Grand Slams, there’s still an absence of a singles champion, with the Black family and Pattison unable to go all the way.