"We are just watching and waiting," Mike Bryan told USA Today

Bob and Mike Bryan
Credit: Julian Finney/Getty

Mike and Bob Bryan’s final lap on the Grand Slam circuit isn’t exactly going as planned.

The brothers — currently the winningest men’s doubles team of the Open Era — announced their plans to retire from professional tennis in November 2019.

Now, tennis is shut down along with other professional sports, in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Without a vaccine, I see it as a stretch they’ll be bringing large crowds of people together to watch sports for a while,” Bob Bryan said in an interview with USA Today this week.

He continued, “The idea of playing behind closed doors, for younger players that might make sense. For us, it doesn’t make sense. It’s not the reason why we signed on to play these last tournaments. It’s not about playing the matches, it’s about enjoying the atmosphere one last time and that isn’t going to be there.”

Bob — who, along with his brother, turns 42 later this month — said that the siblings specifically “want to play to fans one last time.”

Among the tournaments canceled so far have been Indian Wells, Wimbledon, and the Miami Open. Should things resume over the summer, the brothers hope to play doubles at the major tournaments including the Cincinnati Masters, before ultimately finishing at the U.S. Open.

If not, however, the pair was asked by USA Today if they’d consider pushing back retirement one year.

“We haven’t gotten that far,” Mike said. “We are just watching and waiting. If the whole summer was played, that might be enough to kind of wet our whistle and say our goodbyes to the American fans and if we played the U.S. Open, I think we’d prefer to go out that way. But if we don’t get any last matches or tournaments this year … I think the discussion [to play one more year] will be on the table. We just have to see how it shakes out.”

Admittedly, both athletes hadn’t even picked up a tennis racket until last week. Mike is also waiting to welcome his first child with wife Nadia in the next few days.

Despite the situation, both men are “not bitter that it’s not playing out like we wanted,” explained Bob to the outlet.

“The pandemic has put a lot of things in perspective and given us a lot of time to reflect and work on relationships and get our life organized. As Mike said, it’s nice to slow down for a second, take a deep breath and reset. So in my mind and Mike’s mind too, it’s a very a positive time for us, and that’s how we’re trying to look at it.”