Walsh Jennings defines the standard in beach volleyball
LAUSANNE, Switzerland, February 22, 2021 - Kerri Walsh
Jennings has continued her remarkable career into a second
decade of competing on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour and
if she has her way, she will make it a third.
Walsh Jennings, a triple Olympic champion, is on course for a
sixth Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020 following four in beach
volleyball and one in volleyball and if she continues her
remarkable run it will mean she will have played on the World
Tour for 20 years.
The 42-year-old is currently playing alongside Brooke Sweat, who
will be featuring in her second Olympic Games should they
At the moment they are fifth in the provisional FIVB Beach
Volleyball Olympic Rankings which would assure them of a place
in the competition that will run July 24 to August 7 at Shiokaze
They have been together since October 2018 when they teamed up
for the Las Vegas 4-Star. It did not take them long to win their
first World Tour medals, as a week later they claimed bronze at
the Chetumal 3-Star in Mexico.
Another bronze came at the Sydney 3-Star in March 2019, then a
silver at the Kuala Lumpur 3-Star before they won their first
gold at Jinjiang in China. By the end of the year they had
another World Tour silver and bronze, as well as winning the
While Walsh Jennings and Sweat have not played together since
November 2019, they have certainly shown that they can compete
for the medals at Tokyo 2020.
“The goal is to be consistently great, consistently high at all
times,” Walsh Jennings said following their elimination from
“The physicality is there. The skills are there. The
craftsmanship is there. If we put it all together, all the tools
we have, we’re going to be really hard to beat.”
If they do win a medal then it would be typical of Walsh
Jennings, who has shown time and again that she is a player who
knows how to time her runs to the podium.
She began the 2010’s working her way back to fitness after
taking time out to give birth to her second child following her
second gold medal success alongside Misty May-Treanor at Beijing
2008, who had also been her partner when they won their first
Olympic gold at Athens 2004.
Her two tournaments in 2010 came alongside Nicole Branagh while
May-Treanor recovered from a knee injury. Typically, despite the
circumstances they won gold at the Phuket Open.
By the start of 2011 May-Treanor was back on the court and in
their first tournament in three years they won silver at the
Brasilia Open. By the time that year’s FIVB Beach Volleyball
World Championships rolled into Rome they had won gold in
In Rome they reached the final but lost to their long-time
rivals Julia Felisberta and Larissa Franca of Brazil. Come
London 2012 though it was Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor who
finished on top of the podium, with the Brazilians claiming
They defeated compatriots April Ross and Jennifer Kessy in the
London 2012 gold medal match, and with Kessy and May-Treanor
retiring after the Olympics Walsh Jennings was left looking for
a defensive partner.
“It feels almost like an out-of-body experience,” Walsh Jennings
said. “We’ve lived so much of our lives together. This is what
we did, 24-7 it seems, for all these years. But after we were
apart for nearly two years, our reunion was so special, and we
were more connected these last two years than the first nine
years we were a team.
“Misty is the best there ever has been in this sport and it’s
very sad to end this journey with her, but boy do we have some
With Walsh Jennings stepping down again to give birth to her
third child, she returned alongside one of her opponents from
the London 2012 final, April Ross. They appeared at the Gstaad
Grand Slam and then won the other two World Tour tournaments
they played in in 2013.
They added gold from another four World Tour tournaments in
2014, but after winning the Long Beach Grand Slam in July they
had to wait until March 2016 for their next gold, which came at
the Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam.
Three gold, two silver and two bronze followed to ensure they
went into the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games in confident
mood and while they were stopped at the semifinal stage by
reigning world champions Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas,
they recovered to defeat Brazil’s Larissa Franca and Talita
Antunes in the bronze medal match.
Walsh Jennings and Ross played one more tournament together and
after another 10 tournaments with Branagh in 2017 and one with
Kelly Claes, she made the call to Sweat.
Walsh Jennings has already started to bring through the
potential that she saw in a partnership with Sweat, but she has
not set any limits on what they can achieve in tandem.
“Brooke really sits in the same vein as Misty,” Walsh Jennings
told NBC OlympicTalk when they announced their teaming up.
“Brooke is her own athlete and has her own assets and strengths,
but largely what Misty and Brooke share in common is their
inherent knowledge in the game and the fact it’s in her blood.
You can just tell she gets it.
“The times I have enjoyed the most success, consistent success,
that was when there was a true defender behind me, that made me
a big blocker. Brooke, literally, could be the best defender in