Serena Williams confessed to almost being overcome by the pressure of partnering British sporting icon Andy Murray in the Wimbledon mixed doubles but it all worked out in the end as they won their first round match, beating Germany’s Andreas Mies and Chile’s Alexa Guarachi 6-4 6-1.
Seven-time singles champion Williams had fulfilled Murray’s search for a partner – world number one Ashleigh Barty had been previously mooted.
However, as the match loomed on Centre Court her nerves began to jangle as she feared she would let down Murray on the court where he won two Wimbledon singles titles and the 2012 Olympic.
“At some point I started feeling a lot of pressure,” said Williams on Saturday.
“Oh, my God, I have to do well because this match is so hyped that I want to see it. I didn’t even want to be in it, I kind of just wanted to watch it. Maybe I’ll try to get a video of it or watch it somewhere. Overall I think I was able to handle my nerves pretty good, do better than I thought I was going to do.”
Murray and Williams – both former world number ones – had little trouble in dispensing with their opponents.
“Obviously I had lost in the doubles earlier (with Pierre-Hugues Herbert) so all my energy is focused on the mixed but it was a good start,” said Murray.
Murray said physically he felt fine after two matches in one day, save for a stiff back.
The hip he had life-changing surgery on earlier this year had not given him any trouble. “I feel good and am happy to be alive in this,” said Serena.
There was an element of farce when they let slip a set point in the opener as Williams ended up tumbling over and landing unceremoniously on her backside at the net.
The incident caused them much merriment after the match.
“I just remember I slipped, then I was going to get back up. I saw a ball coming towards me, so I just kind of went back down,” said Williams.
“Then I couldn’t get back up after that.” “Did you see the video?” asked Murray
“Yeah. It was hilarious,” replied Williams. “I decided to just stay down and let Andy do all the running.”
However, they closed out the set and took control of the next by breaking their opponents immediately.
Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion, said there was no boss in the team.
“I said to Serena before the match we are the younger siblings so we are used to being bossed by our older brother and sister,” chipped in two-time Wimbledon winner Murray.
While mixed doubles is foreign territory largely for Murray, Williams is the youngest ever female winner, partnering Max Mirnyi to victory in 1998 aged just 16 at Wimbledon.
As for were there any mixed signals during the match in terms of getting to grips with Murray’s Scottish accent Williams played the perfect diplomat.
“I get on with it great,” said Williams. “I haven’t showcased my horrible English accent yet. I’m keeping that in the pocket.”