It may not have been the spectacle we were expecting, but when tennis can be this much fun does it really matter? Indeed, for those here on Centre Court who had the good fortune to watch it unfold, this was an evening that will live long in the memory.
Stood shoulder to shoulder, Andy Murray and Serena Williams delivered a sporting show that, at its core, was thrilling, breathless at times and downright entertaining. Winning 6-4 6-1 against Germany’s Andreas Mies and Chile’s Alexa Guarachi, the pair now have the chance to do it all over again as they look to venture into what is uncharted territory for them both.
The points – and games – were quick, erratic, wild, of a very different nature to the champagne tennis that Roger Federer had showcased just 30 minutes before their arrival. But it was irrelevant to those here who were simply happy to see Murray and Williams, two titans of the game, bringing their talents together on the grandest of stages.
From the off, there was a sense of curiosity in the air as the two stars made their way into this most iconic of venues. Having seen them thrive and succeed as individuals, it was anyone’s guess as to how they would fare as a duo.
The early signs were encouraging: an immediate break. Murray, showing no signs of fatigue after going down in four sets earlier in the day in the men’s doubles, clinched the game after firing a forehand shot into the feet of Mies, with the German unable to clear his return beyond the net.
From there, it was a riot of quick-fire volleys, hopeful lob shots and endless high-fives between the Scot and American – regardless of whether the point had been won – that had the Centre Court cooing with joy.
At 4-2 Murray and Williams were presented with a clear opportunity to consolidate their advantage. With the game at deuce on Guarachi’s serve, Williams fired the sort of forehand smash into Mies that would have sent Rafael Nadal into a fit of rage.
But the German, no stranger to this game, stuck up a firm hand to make the return. Murray was waiting, though, and picked up where Williams had left off, sending over a forehand winner to secure break point.
The pair were ultimately unable to capitalise, with Guarachi and Mies taking the game back to deuce before eventually holding on for serve, but it was yet another moment that had the SW19 crowd on the edge of their seats, willing tennis’ most famous duo to victory.
Despite Williams and Murray moving to yet another break point at 5-3, their opponents held on once again – but it wasn’t to matter as the Scot served out the first set to put the pair ahead.
The second set followed in a similar vein to the first. An early break for Murray and Williams placed them on the front foot, allowing them to adopt a style of play that was fearless in nature.
Williams was the embodiment of this. She held little back as she gave the crowd what it wanted with her thumping forehands and diving lunges at the net.
There was no better example of this when, positioned from the opposite side of the court, she picked out the bottom right-hand corner of her opponents’ baseline with a booming, inch-perfect forehand winner that took the game to advantage.
Up stepped Murray, showcasing his own unique talents as he whipped across a sweet backhand shot that landed well beyond the reach of Guarachi to secure the second break of the set.
A brief wobble on Williams’ serve followed, as the pair fell to three break points, but they showed their mettle to rally. ‘Sir Murray’, as the crowd frequently dubbed him, was the saving grace, completing the comeback with a reactive volley from the net before his partner did the rest.
From there, there was no stopping the two stars as they clinched yet another break to wrap up proceedings and book their place in the second round.
Regardless of what comes next for Murray and Williams, it was an evening of pure entertainment that won't be forgotten in a hurry.
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