Wimbledon 2022: Murray and Venus live up to hype in mixed doubles opener

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Wimbledon 2022: Murray and Venus live up to hype in mixed doubles opener
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By Oli Dickson Jefford at Wimbledon

After all the hype, all the anticipation, all the build-up, Jamie Murray and Venus Williams walked out to a rapturous reception on Court 1 - and delivered.

It was hard to know what to expect from a partnership that had never played together previously, and with 42-year-old Williams' last competitive action coming in last year’s event.

But from the very first point the need to win was there, and they overcame a wobble late in the second set to seal a 6-3 6-7 (3) 6-3 victory over Michael Venus and Alicja Rosolska to reach the second round.

Unsurprisingly the Court 1 crowd was firmly on their side - though perhaps spare a thought for one of their opponents, for whom the chants of ‘come on Venus’ may have been a little confusing.

And there was perhaps no bigger cheer than when in the third set, Williams nailed a volley to seal what proved the decisive break in the deciding set.

“It was a lot of fun tonight. We had a good time, a load of people came out to watch, or stayed out to watch. I really, really enjoyed it - it was amazing to be on court with such a champion,” said Murray.

“She [Williams] hasn't played for a long time. First match, big court, a lot of people. It's not easy. Mixed doubles can be awkward as well, how it kind of plays out.

“I think we did a really good job - it was fun. For me, that's what I wanted to get out of it. It was a great experience to play with Venus Williams. When am I going to get the chance to do that?

“It was everything it was cracked up to be. Excited to get another match on Sunday or Monday, whenever that is.”

It was by no means the perfect performance by either Murray or Williams. There were errors, some nervy serving, the occasional slow reaction, but there was no questioning the hunger, competitiveness and desire of two of the greatest doubles players of recent times - who clearly have no intentions to abandon the euphoria of victory quite yet.

British duo Jonny O’Mara and Alicia Barnett await in the second round and despite Murray’s campaign in the men’s doubles with Bruno Soares, the duo aren’t playing mixed for fun - they’re in it to win.

“What kind of question is that? We're in it for a stroll. C'mon,” joked Williams, when asked about how seriously she and her Scottish partner were taking the event.

For the woman who has won the singles title here five times and the ladies’ doubles here six times - alongside sister Serena - this event holds extra significance.

There’s no place like the All England Club for Williams, who ruled over these courts alongside Serena in the 2000’s, and even she admitted being a little taken aback by her return to SW19.

She said: “I had no plan to play. I saw the grass and I got excited. I was even at the French, I had to work, but I wasn't there - I was at the French Open, it's a beautiful event, but my heart didn't beat the same way.

“I had no plans. That's why I was asking him [Murray] last minute. He just had a baby, too, so I know there's a lot going on. I definitely couldn't have guessed that I would be here right now, taking it at the last minute.

“I haven't played in a year so you don't know what you're going to get. Practice is so much different from a match. It's not easy physically or mentally or anything.

“Just at the end it was like: ‘Oh, my God, wow. I not only played a match but won a match.’

“I'm never like that kind of player. I always expect to win. But when I sat there - we wanted to win, - but when I sat there at the end, it was real. I felt something in my heart.”

Having had one taste of victory, she and Murray will certainly be back for more.

For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA Website

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