LONDON, Great Britain - Fresh from securing her 12th Wimbledon semifinal spot in singles, Serena Williams was right back on Centre Court for her mixed doubles date with ATP star Andy Murray.
The Serena-Murray partnership - dubbed ‘SerAndy’ by fans and ‘MurRena’ by the players themselves - took down No.14 seeds Raquel Atawo and Fabrice Martin in two sets, 7-5, 6-3 to advance to the third round.
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The team had scored a comfortable 6-4, 6-1 win over Alexa Guarachi and Andreas Mies in their much-anticipated mixed doubles debut. Afterwards, Murray - who is coming back from a hip surgery - talked about the importance of playing their way into a good rhythm.
"Maybe we weren't as clinical as maybe we'd like to be,” he said after that first-round win. “Again, that comes with matches a little bit. Like Serena said, neither of us have played much recently, but that will come."
The team looked much more in synch today against their veteran opposition on Centre Court, combining for five aces and 16 winners against No.14 seeds Atawo and Martin. Serena and Murray weren’t broken once during the entire match, saving both break points faced.
“It's been fun being on the court with Serena so far,” Murray said after today’s win. “We've played some good stuff.”
Serena in particular was strong on the return, dominating the back of the court: one of her forehand returns off of Martin’s serve clocked in at 138 miles per hour.
“I mean, do not expect that to ever happen again,” Serena joked afterwards. “I'm convinced that was once in a lifetime. I just never hit returns like that in my life.”
After a tense start for the first six games, the latter part of the set turned into a battle for Atawo and Martin as Serena and Murray applied the pressure. The pair combined for four break chances - including one that would have sealed the set at 5-4 - but weren’t able to convert.
Up 6-5 and with another chance to seal the set, Murray and Serena didn’t hesitate, and Serena ripped a massive forehand crosscourt to close it out, 7-5.
The pair needed just one break of serve to make the difference in the second set, breaking early and converting on their fifth break chance to get ahead 2-0. They held onto the lead for the rest of the set, closing it out with confidence to book their place in the third round.
“I think it's a great thing for the fans and for sport,” Serena said of the mixed doubles competition. “But at the end of the day so many of us are obviously focused on doing the best that we can in singles.
“It just kind of worked out for me in particular because I was literally looking for some match play. So was Andy. It just kind of worked out.”
Up next, Serena and Murray will face a big test when they take on the top seeds, Bruno Soares and Nichole Melichar. Not only have Soares and Melichar reached back-to-back Grand Slam semifinals at the Australian Open and French Open, but Soares is a former doubles partner of Murray’s brother Jamie.