Friendships in sport are not just limited to team events. Some of the best relationships have been established in individual sports despite the mixed emotions that it can bring at facing each other on the pitch or across the net. Molly McElwee looks at eight strong sporting friendships which have had their highs and lows.
Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens
When Stephens won the US Open in 2017 she beat her best friend on the tour, fellow American Keys. Once the initial celebrations with her team were done, in a rare showing Stephens sat alongside her opponent, the two congratulating and commiserating with one another on court.
"I told her I wish there could be a draw, I wish we could have both won," Stephens said afterwards.
"She would do the same for me. I'm going to support her no matter what, and I know she's going to support me. That's what real friendship is."
Keys echoed the sentiment in a Twitter post dedicated to Stephens last month: "To have someone you compete against one moment and laugh with the next can be rare."
I am so proud of one of my best friends @Madison_Keys for inspiring girls to use social media in a positive and uplifting way - something that is so needed. Madi has always been someone I turn to for advice, for support, for fun - pic.twitter.com/ywmzr9GHI5
— Sloane Stephens (@SloaneStephens) May 21, 2019
Jade Jones and Bianca Walkden
This GB taekwondo pair have taken over the sport together, one World and Olympic title at a time. They have four world titles and three Olympic medals between them, and at 26 and 27 years old there is sure to be more to come at Tokyo 2020.
The two have been part of the GB programme since their teens and share an apartment together in Manchester. "Me and Jade train together, eat together and win together," Walkden said in an interview with the Telegraph ahead of May's World Championships, and it was a fair prediction: both fighters won gold in their respective weight categories.
Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki
Despite Williams being nearly a decade older than Wozniacki and dominating their head-to-head record 10-1, including beating the Dane in the US Open final in 2014, the two remain close.
They have been vocal supporters of one another, with Wozniacki one of the first at Williams’ bedside after she suffered a pulmonary embolism in 2011 and Williams publicly consoling her friend after her high-profile break up with ex-fiance Rory McIlroy.
There has been controversy however, after Wozniacki’s imitation of Williams during an exhibition match in 2017, which included stuffing her skirt and top with towels, was widely condemned as racist. Williams insisted she was not offended by the gaff, however, and last weekend was Wozniacki's bridesmaid at her wedding to former NBA All-Star David Lee in Tuscany.
Leah Williamson and Keira Walsh
When England’s World Cup squad was announced last month, Walsh jumped on the phone not to call her family, but Williamson.
“It’s the first thing you do, you check for your name on the list and then you check for Keira’s,” Williamson echoed in a recent interview. The 22-year-olds' careers with England have moved in tandem, with both coming through the England junior ranks together from U-15s and earning their first senior call-up on the same day in 2017.
“Nobody I would rather have shared this journey with,” Walsh said in an Instagram tribute to her teammate last month.
Menna Fitzpatrick and Jen Kehoe
Despite a 14-year age gap, Fitzpatrick and Kehoe have been inseparable since becoming teammates over three years ago - and it has been a winning partnership.
Fitzpatrick, a VI alpine skier, and Kehoe, her guide, are Britain's most decorated Winter Paralympians after winning four medals at the Pyeongchang Games in 2018, including gold in the slalom.
In an interview with the Telegraph they described their relationship on the slopes as "instinctive".
“It’s been really good fun to turn what is usually an individual sport into a team sport, which is awesome. It’s been one of the best three years of both of our lives really,” Fitzpatrick said.
Kirsty and Kerry McPhee
These two sisters from the Hebrides combine professional mountain bike racing and their daytime jobs; Kirsty is a teacher and Kerry a Dementia adviser for Alzheimers Scotland.
The sisters have helped each other through trying times this year, after Kerry lost her boyfriend and training partner suddenly in late 2018, but continue to race alongside each other.
Kerry previously competed for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and in 2018 the sisters made a BBC documentary cycling through rural Scotland. Both were nominated from their community to attend the nuptials of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Bryony and Poppy Cleall
At 14, the identical twins went to England U-18 rugby trials, Bryony made the cut, Poppy did not. But the roles reversed as their careers progressed; earlier this year Poppy, who has 29 caps for England, received one of 28 coveted full-time contracts, Bryony was only awarded a part-time.
The 26-year-old's have played alongside and against each other for 20 years, but as their careers have interwoven and digressed their sisterhood has remained constant. Now teammates, they have played together at Premier 15s champions Saracens for the past two seasons.
Dani Rowe and Becky James
These Team GB cyclists both have Olympic medals in common as well as their strong bond. Rowe won gold in the team pursuit at London 2012, as well as coming third in the road cycling Women’s Tour 2018, and James won two silver medals in Rio.
Their friendship has endured beyond their respective careers however, as 14 years after meeting in cycling and both since retiring, Rowe played the role of maid of honour at James’ nuptials to Wales rugby star George North earlier this month.