It was an emotional scene on Friday at No. 13 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. To Bruno Soares missed a forehand volley into the net, he shared a long hug with partner Jamie Murray. It wasn’t just the end of her US Openbut the last match of Soares’ career.
The 40-year-old Brazilian was part of the No. 1 pair in the Pepperstone ATP doubles team rankings twice at year-end, won 35 tour-level men’s doubles titles and won six Grand Slam trophies – three in men’s doubles and three in mixed doubles – and won 545 matches at tour level in his illustrious career.
Soares, who knew 2022 would be his last season in the early months of the year, is excited about everything he has achieved on the pitch. But the favorite in the dressing room is even more touched by the support he’s received from his peers and fans.
“It’s kind of overwhelming to see how much I’ve been through, but I also think the most beautiful thing for me is just friends, family, fans, everyone, the messages I’ve gotten. I think that’s what’s special for me,” Soares told ATPTour.com. “[There have been] There are so many good things to read and I’ve always said the titles, the career, they’re really amazing. At the end of the day, it’s the person that counts so I feel very blessed and honored to receive all of this love and amazing support and messages at this special moment in my life.”
One of those messages came from another Brazilian Marcelo Melo. The former doubles world number 1 has posted a series of pictures with Soares on social media. Both hail from Belo Horizonte and grew up to conquer the world of professional tennis together.
“It was very special to have a guy like Bruno from the same town as a friend. It was very nice and convenient to take planes together many times. Achieving a lot of big titles…growing up in Belo to conquer the world was very nice,” said Melo. “Bruno is also a very nice guy, everyone likes him a lot. He [is always in] very good mood, always positive. It was a lot of fun sharing the space with him during this time.
“I wish him the best of luck for the next chapter in his life. He’ll be as good as tennis for sure.”
Soares’ tennis journey began in Iraq. His father, Malthus, was a civil engineer working on a highway, and their family lived in a camp. While Malthus worked, Soares’ mother, Maisa, looked after the family. Bruno started playing sports around the age of five. After six years in Iraq, the Soares family returned to Brazil and moved from city to city during Bruno’s childhood.
“I find [of] the amount of work my parents put into our lives and into raising our three children. Of course my father worked, but my mother survived the heat pretty much alone with three children living in Iraq. I think that made my family pretty strong in everything, and it’s been quite a journey,” Soares said. “All my life I’ve moved from place to place and in the past when you moved from one city to another you pretty much lost all your friends. There was no social media, no WhatsApp, you could never keep in touch.”
Soares quickly got into tennis and began competing locally. One of the players he met before he was a teenager was Melo. From their junior days to an emotional moment they shared after Soares’ game on Friday, it’s been a wild ride for the Brazilians.
“The picture says it all. After Friday’s game, he came to hug me and we immediately burst into tears. We’ve been through so much,” Soares said. “Everyone knows how difficult it is to be a professional tennis player. It’s funny because we’ve been doing it together since we were seven, eight years old, same thing, same tournaments, same process.
“We’re still playing tournaments and living our dreams, so it’s pretty incredible. This picture therefore has a very special meaning. It’s literally the beginning of the journey and now it’s the end of the journey and until [see] that is very nice.”
Soares also won his first ATP Tour doubles title in Nottingham in 2008 Kevin Ullyett. His breakthrough partnership came from 2012 to 2015 when he won 12 titles with Alexander Peyaincluding two ATP Masters 1000 crowns.
But Soares’ most successful partnership was with Jamie Murray. In five and a half seasons together over two stints, they picked up 12 tour-level trophies, including wins at the Australian Open and US Open 2016, the year they ended the year as the No. 1 duo.
“We had a lot of fun on our trip, I think that made it very special for us. We’re really good friends and really enjoyed competing and winning together,” Murray said. “There’s so much time to hang around and stuff waiting for the games. There’s a lot of dead time on tour and of course it’s a lot more fun when you have someone to spend that time with [where] They really enjoy their company and can have fun with them [them].
“I think for me that will be the saddest part of Bruno’s leaving – losing that and having to try to find that with someone else, which won’t be easy, I don’t think. he’s a great guy [has a] brilliant family and [I] wish him every success in this next phase of his life.”
Soares also became part of the year-end No. 1 team in 2020 with Croatian Buddy Pavic. As proud as he is of all those achievements on the pitch, the relationships Soares has built mean even more.
“For me that’s a lot more valuable because it’s such a tough environment, such a competitive lifestyle and I think that you can play against so many people for so many years and have to deal with so many things and so much pressure, I think that’s what counts when you go to bed at night,” Soares said. “It’s the person you’ve become, it’s what you are as a person. For me that matters a lot more. My tennis career ended on Friday, but my life goes on. I want to take that with me until I die.”
Soares has delved deeply into the business world over the past few years and will continue to build on that in the future. But fans of the Brazilian can expect to see him in the tennis world as well.
“Tennis is my life. Sport is in my blood. It’s in my DNA. I want to be there, I have so many close friends on the tour. I’ll definitely get in touch and I’m a tennis fan. Ultimately, I’m a huge tennis lover,” said Soares. “I’ve been trying to give back my whole career, but now is the real time that I’ll have a little more time to give back.
“I will never say goodbye to tennis.”