It was an emotional scene Friday on Court 13 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. After Bruno Soares missed a forehand volley into the net, he shared a lengthy embrace with partner Jamie Murray. It was not only the end of their US Open, but the last match of Soares’ career.
The 40-year-old Brazilian was part of the year-end No. 1 pair in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Teams Rankings twice, claimed 35 tour-level men’s doubles titles, lifted six Grand Slam trophies — three in men’s doubles and three in mixed doubles — and won 545 tour-level matches in his illustrious career.
Soares, who knew 2022 would be his final season within the first few months of the year, is thrilled with all he accomplished on the court. But the locker-room favourite is even more touched by the outpouring of support he has received from his colleagues and fans.
“It’s kind of overwhelming to see how much I’ve been through, but also for me I think the nicest part is just friends, family, fans, everyone, the messages that I got. I think this is for me the most special part,” Soares told ATPTour.com. “[There have been] so many good things to read and I’ve always said the titles, the career, they are really amazing. In the end of the day, it’s the person that counts, so I feel extremely blessed and honoured to be able to get all this love and amazing support and messages in this special moment of my life.”
One of those messages came from fellow Brazilian Marcelo Melo. The former doubles World No. 1 posted on social media a series of images with Soares. They both are from Belo Horizonte and have grown up to take on the world of professional tennis together.
“It was very special to have a guy like Bruno from the same city, travelling as a friend as well. It was very nice and comfortable, many times taking airplanes together. Achieving many big titles… growing up from Belo to conquer the world, it was very nice,” Melo said. “Bruno is also a very nice guy, everybody likes him a lot. He [is always in] a very good mood, always positive. It was very fun to share the court with him during this period of time.
“I wish good luck for him in the next chapter of his life. For sure he’s going to be as good as he was in tennis.”
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 began playing the sport around the age of five. After six years in Iraq, the Soares family returned to Brazil and relocated from city to city throughout Bruno’s childhood.
“I think [of] the amount of work my parents put into our lives and into raising three kids. Of course my dad was working, but my mom was taking all the heat with three kids living in Iraq, pretty much alone. I think this just made my family quite strong in everything and it’s been quite a journey,” Soares said. “My whole life I was moving from place to place and back in the day, once you move 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 took to tennis quickly, and began competing locally. One of the players he got to know before he was a teenager was Melo. From their junior days to an emotional moment they shared after Soares’ match Friday, it has been a wild ride for the Brazilians.
“That picture says it all. After the match on Friday he came to give me a hug and immediately we collapsed in 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, the same thing, the same tournaments, the same process.
“We’re still playing tournaments and living our dreams, so it’s quite incredible. That picture, it has a very special meaning because of that. It’s literally the beginning of the journey and now it’s the end of the journey and to [see] that is quite beautiful.”
Soares won his first ATP Tour doubles title in 2008 at Nottingham alongside Kevin Ullyett. His breakthrough partnership came from 2012 to 2015, when he won 12 titles with Alexander Peya, including 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 lifted 12 tour-level trophies, including victories at the Australian Open and US Open in 2016, the year they finished as the year-end No. 1 duo.
“We had a lot of fun on our journey, I think that’s what made it most special for us. We are really good friends and really enjoyed competing together and winning together,” Murray said. “There is so much time hanging around and stuff waiting for the matches. There’s a lot of dead time on the Tour and it’s obviously a lot more fun when you’re able to spend that time with someone [where] you really enjoy their company and can have fun with [them].
“I think for me that’s what will be the saddest part of Bruno stopping — losing that and having to try to find that with someone else, which won’t be easy I don’t think. He’s an amazing guy, [has a] brilliant family and [I] wish him all the success in this next part of his life.”
Soares also finished as part of the year-end No. 1 team in 2020 with Croatian Mate Pavic. As proud as he is of all those on-court accomplishments, the relationships Soares has built mean even more.
“For me this is way more valuable, because it’s such a tough environment, such a competitive lifestyle and I think for you to be able to play so many years against so many people and you have to deal with so many things and so much pressure, I think when you go to bed at night, that’s what matters,” Soares said. “It’s the person you became, it’s what you are as a human being. For me this counts way more. My tennis career was over on Friday, but my life goes on. That’s what I want to take with me until the day I die.”
Soares has already dipped his toes into the business world over the past few years, and he will continue building on that moving forward. But for fans of the Brazilian, you can expect to see him around the tennis world, too.
“Tennis is my life. The sport is in my blood. It’s in my DNA. I want to be around, I have so many close friends on Tour. I’ll definitely be in touch and I’m a tennis fan. At the end of the day I’m a huge tennis lover,” Soares said. “I’ve been trying to give back my whole career, but now is the real time when I’m going to have a little bit more time to give back.
“I’m never going to say good bye to tennis.”