Keep the lady happy. Let her take the lead, be the boss, serve first. Do all of that and you’ll have a nice time.
Would we have a nice time watching their court courtship? You bet we would. The supergroup won 6-4, 6-1 against Germany’s Andreas Mies and Chile’s Alexa Guarachi, right, and the cheering which greeted the great Scot’s attempt to save match-point in his men’s doubles match earlier in the day – ultimately in vain – was partly out of gratitude for Murray just having made it back to Wimbledon, and the roars of appreciation continued when he moved to Centre Court.
If there was any quibble about his short-lived adventures in the men’s, it was that there weren’t many laughs. Well, one arrived here after just the second point when Williams – megastar, icon, one of the most famous women on the planet – realised after putting away a volley that she was still wearing her tournament accreditation confirming her name.
Good luck to anyone trying to persuade Murray that a comeback from career-threatening injury, while a serious affair, should still have room for slapstick. But mixed seemed a more likely platform for lighter moments, if not quite the full Edinburgh Festival Fringe stand-up comedy bill. “We’re taking this very seriously,” Williams said afterwards, though there was much hilarity when she took a tumble and Murray was forced to carry on playing around her prostrate frame.
Murray’s protracted quest for a partner had been a laugh in itself with a real comedienne, Miranda Hart, offering her services along with his granny before Victoria Azarenka pretended to be miffed she hadn’t been asked. Williams seemed too fanciful a prospect, like those football transfer rumours in the close season which never come to pass, but there she was and Murray was thrilled.
He said: “The great thing about someone like Serena is that, after so long in our sport, that at eight o’clock at night having already played singles she still wanted to be out there determined to win.”
From her back garden in Dunblane via Twitter, Gran’s mixed doubles advice for Murray had been “PYV – punch your volleys”. Maybe he passed the tip on to Williams, for this was one forte on display, among many.
She lobbed and grunted and smashed and grunted and after every point Murray ran over to fistbump her, whatever the outcome of the point, and a break of serve arrived immediately. Murray’s earlier match lasted three hours. That can probably seem even longer if you’ve lost, never mind that you’re battling your way back from so long a time out of tennis, but it looked like Williams on lead vocals for the supergroup and Murray, champion of the women’s game, was obviously cool with that. “Lovely!” he shouted after another winner. “Great serve!”
He enthused later: “Getting a lot of free points off that serve makes my life at the net much easier.” Williams returned the compliment. Partnering Murray, she said, was “awesome”.
It seemed like the Germany/Chile duo might be blown away by the power of Williams’ hits and the power of Centre Court’s admiration for the supergroup. But after a sympathetic shout from the stands of “Come on, other people!”, the pair kept smiling and found their feet, with Guarachi doing well to hold on to her serve after a blur of Murray specials – cross-court scorcher, sharp pick-up then the body contortion required for a hooked volley. Then came that fall. “I slipped, was going to get back up, saw a ball coming towards me, so I just kind of went back down. Then I couldn’t get back up!” Williams laughed. In the next game she smashed the winner for the first set.
The supergroup ran away with the second, both of them hitting some crackers, with the cutest of slices from Murray setting up match point. Despite the banter between them there was pressure. “So much hype,” Williams said of the build-up. “I almost wanted to watch the match rather than be in it.” She was happy with the performance and promised they would get better.
Murray if anything was even more pleased. “It was great playing with Serena, and after the last year having been so tough, being back on Centre Court again.”