August 20, 2019

Serena Williams and Andy Murray in Wimbledon Mixed Doubles: It’s Happening

Serena Williams and Andy Murray in Wimbledon Mixed Doubles: It’s Happening


WIMBLEDON, England — After days of coy remarks about the possibility, it has been confirmed that Andy Murray and Serena Williams will be a team in the mixed doubles event at Wimbledon.

The two will sign in for the 48-team competition ahead of the 11 a.m. deadline on Wednesday morning, Matt Gentry, a spokesman for Murray, said on Tuesday.

Both players had health reasons to hesitate before adding to their Wimbledon agendas.

Murray, 32, is playing his third tournament since undergoing hip replacement surgery in January, and he is focusing on doubles to ease into his comeback. He will play men’s doubles with Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, who has won four Grand Slam titles in the event.

Williams, 37, has struggled with a knee injury for months, but she won her first-round singles match at Wimbledon on Tuesday, beating the qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone, 6-2, 7-5.

“Now that I can actually use my legs, it just all feels better,” Williams said afterward, specifically referring to her service motion.

The pairing will be one of the highest-profile combinations ever in a mixed doubles competition. Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles in singles, the most in the Open era, and 14 in women’s doubles with her sister Venus. Murray has won three Grand Slam singles titles, tied for fourth among active men.

Speculation over who would be Murray’s mixed doubles partner has been rampant since he revealed that several players — including the WTA singles No. 1, Ashleigh Barty — had declined his offer. The suggestion of Williams initially seemed to be wishful thinking from reporters eager for a dream team, but then Murray entertained the question.

“If I’m going to play mixed, which is the plan, you obviously want to be playing with someone who’s going to be there for the whole event, and they’re in it to try to win matches and win the event,” Murray said Saturday. “I appreciate with singles players that’s not always going to be the case. Yeah, I mean, obviously she’s arguably the best player ever. It would be a pretty solid partner.”

Gentry said they had deliberately waited until after Williams’s first-round match to commit to the mixed doubles.

Before the tournament, Williams enjoyed being coy with British reporters about the idea, saying she was “available” to play.

“We just have to wait and see,” she said, grinning. “I like to be tongue in cheek.”

Shortly after her win on Tuesday, Williams kept up the playful banter but shifted it closer to confirming that she would play mixed doubles. “If you guys really want it, then maybe I’ll do it,” she told reporters. “Yeah? All right, done, just for you guys. Don’t forget.”

The Williams-Murray entry comes two decades after another highly anticipated pairing at Wimbledon in 1999, when John McEnroe came out of retirement to play with Steffi Graf. The pair reached the semifinal before Graf withdrew to focus on singles, where she lost in the final to Lindsay Davenport.

Williams won her first Grand Slam title in any discipline in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 1998, partnering with the Belarusian Max Mirnyi. She won that year’s United States Open with Mirnyi as well, but has not added a mixed doubles title since.

The last time she entered Grand Slam mixed doubles was in 2012. At the Australian Open, she entered with her longtime friend Andy Roddick, but they did not play together because Roddick had to withdraw after sustaining an injury in singles. At the French Open that year, Williams played with Bob Bryan and lost in the first round.

Williams has often praised Murray for supporting female athletes. He has been known to remind reporters of Williams’s accomplishments when they focus on the men’s side as if they are discussing the whole sport.

“I don’t think there’s a woman player — and there really shouldn’t be a female athlete — that is not totally supportive of Andy Murray,” Williams said in 2017. “He has spoken up for women’s issues and women’s rights, especially in tennis, forever.”

Together, Williams and Murray should shine light on an event that has been cast to the sport’s periphery.

Despite the proliferation of combined men’s and women’s tournaments, mixed doubles is currently contested on the tour level only in the Grand Slams, the Olympics and World Team Tennis. Mixed doubles offers no ranking points and scant prize money: This year’s champion team will split $146,100, compared with the $2.95 million for each singles champion.



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