Bob and Mike Bryan have had a very eventful summer. The twin tennis stars won an Olympic gold medal in London in July, then won their record 81st doubles title, at the U.S. Open in New York on Sept. 10.
This weekend’s return to their home state for the Esurance Tennis Classic in Mill Valley will provide a different sort of experience than the rush they’ve been through over the past few months.
“[The Esurance Classic] is going to be a lot more fun,” Bob Bryan said. “It’s more relaxed, it’s more casual, the fans are closer to the players. ... I’d guess no one will break their rackets. We’re all competitors, we hate to lose, but no one’s losing hundreds of thousands of dollars on the match or no one’s losing ranking points.”
The event kicks off with a Concert for Giving tonight, where the Bryan brothers will play alongside Bay Area artists Pride and Joy, with proceeds going to Meals of Marin, the Marin Food Bank and the St. Vincente de Paul Dining Room.
The Bryans, who were born in Camarillo and attended Stanford, will be playing in front of their friends and family in a rare opportunity that Bob said will give them some extra motivation.
“We’re going to have a lot of friends and family in the crowd at the matches,” he said. “You want to put on a good show and you want to play your best tennis because those people only get maybe one chance to see you all year.”
The way they’ve been playing lately, a good show for their fans can be expected, and winning an Olympic gold has only increased their profile.
“To win a gold medal, it’s something special that transcends the sport of tennis,” Bob said. “I talked to a guy yesterday who doesn’t know one thing about tennis, didn’t know who I was, but when I told him that we won the Olympic gold, the guy was freaking out. He turned into a superfan.”
He said the pair is happy to share their success, and plan to spend plenty of time utilizing the more intimate setting at Mill Valley’s Harbor Point Tennis Club to sign autographs and allow fans to try their gold medals on for size and pose for pictures.
Also participating in the tournament will be three-time Grand Slam winner Lindsay Davenport, Hall of Famer Gigi Fernandez, 1994 Wimbledon singles champion Conchita Martinez, four-time Grand Slam doubles winner Mark Knowles, six-time Grand Slam doubles winner Rennae Stubbs and French Open doubles winner Murphy Jensen.
The first match begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and runs through Sunday afternoon.