Serena Williams, Andy Murray win Wimbledon mixed doubles opener
The dream mixed-doubles partnership of Serena Williams and Andy Murray didn’t disappoint in their long awaited Wimbledon debut.
Due to play on Center Court Friday, there was no room for the grand slam winning pair after teen phenom Cori “Coco” Gauff’s dramatic late victory but Williams and Murray got their slot Saturday after a trio of quick singles matches and downed Germany’s Andreas Mies and Chile’s Alexa Guarachi 6-4 6-1.
“Andy and I both love the competition,” Williams said earlier Saturday after a singles win over Julia Goerges 6-3 6-4. “I know we both want to do well. We’re not here just for show. We want to play well. We both have been champions at Wimbledon. It’s like we want to continue to do that.”
Williams added that Murray only had to adhere to one rule.
“I always play the forehand side. If you want to play with me, I play forehand,” she said.
And Murray did.
The result was particularly important for him, since the 32-year-old lost in the men’s doubles earlier with Frenchman Pierre Hugues Herbert against sixth-seeds Franko Skugor and Nikola Mektic 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-2 6-3.
Thank Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Ashleigh Barty for speeding up proceedings on the most famous court in the world on Day Six, each of them winning in straight sets in the third round. Perennial history maker Federer became the first man to collect 350 grand slam victories.
Williams and Murray cruised to victory in one hour and 16 minutes, creating 17 break points and not dropping serve.
Wimbledon was meant to be Murray’s swansong, having said on the eve of the Australian Open in January he wished to play his last tournament at SW19 this year after being ravaged by a hip injury.
A hip resurfacing procedure saved his career, however, and thankfully the twice singles champion at SW19 now doesn’t plan on retiring this year.
Murray focusing on doubles
But he still isn’t comfortable enough to play singles, instead focusing on doubles.
He combined with Feliciano Lopez to lift the title at Queens and then said he would compete in men’s doubles at Wimbledon with Herbert.
And when he considered playing mixed doubles, he asked the likes of Barty and France’s Kristina Mladenovic. Others volunteered their services, including Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka.
After Murray lightheartedly said he would be keen to partner Williams — who has won 14 doubles grand slams with older sister Venus — it eventually happened.
They are friends and parents who have expressed admiration for each other in the past.
Seeing the pair in the mixed doubles at an official event is rare — Williams last competed at the 2012 French Open with Bob Bryan, who underwent surgery last year for the same type of hip problem afflicting the Scot, while Murray last featured at the 2016 Olympics with Heather Watson.
After a knee injury, Williams like Murray, is seeking matches.
Williams a singles winner
Unlike Murray, she won her first match of the day, against Goerges in a repeat of last year’s semifinal to reach the fourth round.
It was the American’s best performance so far as she bids once again to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 majors.
Williams’ famed serve was working, delivering seven aces. She didn’t face a break point, either.
Another player Williams has praised is Barty, the new world No. 1 and French Open champion.
The down to earth Aussie tallied her 15th straight win and 20th straight set, dispatching Britain’s Harriet Dart 6-1 6-1.
Barty and Williams could meet in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile Nadal and Federer could meet in the semifinals, in what would be their first duel at Wimbledon since the 2008 final that many consider the greatest tennis match of all time.
There is still a ways to go but both will feature Monday after Wimbledon’s usual day off Sunday.
Nadal — two days after his grudge match with Nick Kyrgios — crushed a disappointing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2 6-3 6-2 and Federer ousted Lucas Pouille 7-5 6-2 7-6 (7-4) in what was a disappointing day for the French men.
Fabio Fognini faces a potential ban after saying he wished a bomb would explode at Wimbledon during a defeat to American Tennys Sandgren.
“Wish a bomb would explode on this club. A bomb should explode here,” microphones on court caught him saying in Italian.
The controversial Fognini said “sorry” in his briefing with reporters afterward but it might not be enough to spare him from a suspension.
In 2017, he was fined $96,000 and thrown out of the US Open for verbally abusing a female chair umpire and told he would miss two grand slams if he committed another major offense in the next two seasons.
Bombs damaged a part of Center Court in 1940 during World War II.